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The Spectacular Great Hammerhead Shark

Amruta Gaikwad
Swiftly gliding through the deep waters, the great hammerhead shark is among the spectacular looking hammerheads. Enrich your knowledge on these sharks, here.
Sharks have been ruling the sea for over 400 million years. Many movies and media depicted these predators as voracious killers, generating fear in the minds of many people. Though these sharks kill only a few, every year, the human fear and other selfish needs, kill over 100 million sharks every year.
Brutal hunting and killing has shown a drastic decline in the 440 shark species. Due to this, shark is also joining the list of endangered species.
Descending from Sphyrnidae family, the great hammerhead sharks are known for their unusual built. This is amongst the largest sharks in the hammerhead species and weighs around 1,012 pounds. Their wide and large heads with bulging eyes on either side, make the kill easy for them.
Their sensory organs are so strong that they can thoroughly scan the ocean floor for food. These hammerhead sharks possess one of the unique groups of sensory organs called ampullae of Lorenzini. They help detect any electrical object that is in the vicinity of the shark. The hammerheads can measure up to 20 feet and mainly dwell in tropical waters.
Among the nine species of hammerheads, great hammerhead is the most advanced. They are olive green or brown at the top with off white belly and have serrated strong triangular teeth. They have excellent adaptability to the changing temperatures of water too. It is interesting and fascinating to learn about the facts, diet and habitat of this shark.

Interesting Facts

  • The broad and flattened head of these predators bring stability in their swimming.
  • The distance between the eyes and nostrils can help these sharks hunt their food easily. It also spreads their vision and helps them smell up to a larger distance.
  • Though these sharks travel in school or shoals, they hunt alone.
  • They love to feed on stingrays, sea cat fish, small skates and sharks.
  • The cephalofoil (hammer like structure) is 23-27% wide of the total length of the body.
  • They have 17 tooth rows which are triangular and turn oblique towards the corners to get a grip on the prey.
  • Male hammerheads reach maturity when they grow up to 2.3-2.7 meters and the females at 2.5-3 meters.
  • The gestation period for hammerhead sharks ranges up to 11 months. Female hammerheads breed once in two years and give birth to around 55 pups.
  • The great hammerheads live up to 20-30 years.
  • These sharks kill the stingrays with their hammer like head to pin them down and feed on their rays.
  • Great hammerheads travel to the Polar Regions during summer.

Habitat and Diet

Octopus, squid, stingrays, crustaceans, crabs, lobsters, sea catfish, grunts, toadfish, sardines, porcupine fish and tarpon, are some of the foods that great hammerheads feed on. Their most sought after preys are stingrays and skates.
The hammerheads often hunt at dawn or dusk and their ampullae of Lorenzini help them detect the electrical remains of stingrays. Once the shark detects it favorite prey the cephalofoil help it to quickly turn and plunge on the spotted stingray.
These sea predators are found in the coastal regions and offshore islands. At times they are also spotted in open sea, sandy plains and even deep sea. As these sharks are adaptable to temperate waters, they can blend their diet too.
This majestic sea animal confidently glides in the deep waters without any fear. The shark does not show much interest in the divers swimming along it, but the shark has the potential to fatally injure humans. They are dangerous and are known to turn aggressive with the object that interferes with it.
No matter how powerful these hammerheads seem, humans have found strategic ways to conquer them. For years they have been hunted for commercial and recreational purposes. These sharks are hunted on a large-scale as their fins are very valuable for shark fin soup. The skin of great hammerheads is used to obtain leather, liver oil and fish meal.
Around 90% of sharks die due to bycatch and by getting tangled in shark nets. Though maximum deaths are caused unintentionally, these sharks are now one of the endangered species. Though the population of Great Hammerheads is on the decline, there is no initiative taken to protect them.
There are many divers who have been lucky enough to swim along this shark without getting hurt and even captured some of the most intriguing pictures. These sharks cause less harm if they are left alone to rule the ocean. These mute water species do not intend to harm and so should the humans learn to leave them alone.