Hammerhead sharks are named after their uniquely flat hammer-shaped head. Found worldwide, read on to know the range and habitat of all the species that belong to this group.
Did you know?
While hammerhead sharks are generally observed in groups of 5 to 15 during the day, there have been reports of unusually large schools in their natural habitat, sometimes even in thousands.
Hammerhead sharks are a group of sharks that belong to the family Sphyrnidae, having 9 species. These sharks are also known for staying in groups or schools during the day and hunting alone at night.
While the other species of hammerhead sharks belong to the genus Sphyrna, the Winghead shark has a genus of its own, known as Eusphyra. The range and habitat varies with each species and is explained in detail as follows -
Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran)
Great hammerhead sharks are confined to tropical waters globally. They are found prominently in lagoons, coral reefs, on continental shelves, and on island terraces. They are quasi-oceanic observed in inshore waters up to a depth of 1 m and in offshore waters up to 80 m.
Great hammerhead sharks live in waters from Ryukyu Islands to Australia, and from southern Baja California to Peru of the Pacific Ocean. They also dwell in Atlantic Ocean spanning across the area from North Carolina to Uruguay, and from Morocco to Senegal.
Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)
This species of hammerhead shark is found in tropical waters and in the pelagic zone - area that lies between the shore and the bottom of a water body (being close to neither).
They have reported to survive till the depths of 500 m but are often seen above 25 - 30 m during the day. Found in waters almost all over the world between 46° N to 36° S, certain areas in Atlantic Ocean have shown steady decline in the population of these sharks and are now on the endangered list.
Bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo)
The bonnethead shark lives in tropical to subtropical waters (41°N - 34°S) with temperature around 70 °F (21 °C). In the Atlantic Ocean, their geographical range spans from North Carolina to South Brazil, whereas in the Pacific Ocean they are found from South USA to Ecuador.
During winter, they are seen in the equatorial region when the waters are warm. They are found in depths ranging between 10 - 80 m.
Scoophead (Sphyrna media)
Inhabiting inshore tropical water habitats, these sharks are found in western parts of Atlantic Ocean with a geographical range extending from Panama to Brazil. In the eastern region of Pacific Ocean, they are distributed between Gulf of California to Ecuador.
Scalloped Bonnethead (Sphyrna corona)
Also known as Crown shark, Scalloped bonnethead lives in tropical to subtropical waters in Eastern Pacific Ocean in regions from Mexico to Peru.
This shark is commonly found up to the depths of 100 m on continental shelves.
Smalleye Hammerhead (Sphyrna tudes)
Preferring inshore marine habitat, this species is found in western parts of Atlantic Ocean from Uruguay to Venezuela.
The species has been reported in areas of Gulf of Mexico and in Mediterranean regions; both reports have not been confirmed as yet. The Smalleye hammerhead is found on continental shelf up to a depth of 12 m.
Smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena)
The smooth hammerhead is the only species amongst others that lives even in waters of higher latitudes. This is a semi-oceanic shark inhabiting coastal pelagic regions at depths of 20 m. Geographically, these sharks are widely distributed; in the Pacific Ocean they occur in western and eastern parts including Japan...
...Australia, New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Panama, Ecuador, Chile, and Galapagos; in the Atlantic Ocean they live in the western and northeastern parts which include South Brazil to South Argentina, Nova Scotia to Florida and Virgin Islands...
...the British Isles, Mediterranean Sea, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde Islands, Senegal, and Guinea; in the Indian Ocean they occur off India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.
Whitefin Hammerhead (Sphyrna couardi)
Inhabiting the tropical waters of West Africa, the geographical range of the whitefin includes Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. Detailed research on this species has not been carried out as yet.
Winghead Shark (Eusphyra blochii)
Found in shallow waters of continental shelves, the geographical extent of winghead sharks includes Indo-West Pacific.
This region covers the gulf area in the Arabian peninsula to Philippines, from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, and from north of China to Queensland and Australia.
Shark meat is savored by many, especially shark fin soup, which is widely regarded as a delicacy. Owing to the increasing demand of shark fins, along with their meat, the great hammerhead and the scalloped hammerhead are currently in the list of endangered species. If the current practices are not stopped, the day is not far when all the 9 species will be threatened. Spread the word.