Hammerhead Shark Facts

Vancouver, BC | Posted: May 23rd, 2016


Scientific name: Sphyrnidae (Sphyrna mokarran – Great Hammerhead)

Conservation Status: Endangered

Lifespan: 20-30 years

Mass: Up to 450 kg (1000 lbs)

Length: 6.1 m (20ft)

More About Hammerhead SharksHammerhead shark in Bahamas, underwater picture

There are nine species of hammerhead sharks worldwide. The hammerhead with its strangely shaped head is somewhat of a mystery although scientists have recently discovered that the odd shape improves their vision, making them excellent hunters.

The Great Hammerhead, the largest of the hammerheads, can reach a length of 20 feet, almost the size of a Great White shark. Hammerheads are known for their schooling behavior and consume a variety of prey including rays, other sharks, fish, squid, and crustaceans

There are nine species of hammerhead sharks worldwide in the family Sphyyrnidae. The Great Hammerhead is the largest reaching a length up to 20 feet and weighing as much as 1,000 pounds. These sharks are named for the unusual shape of their head which is flattened forming two lobes which extend out to the side.

Prefer to watch and learn? Why not spend 5mins and dive into the world of the Great Hammerhead.

Credit to Shark Kids; Filmed by Duncan Brake and edited by Michael Lenis.

Hammerhead Shark Facts & Tidbits

  • Although they prefer to eat rays, lobsters, crabs, squid, and boney fish, they are known to practice cannibalism.
  • Stingray spines are often found lodged in their head and mouth.
  • The Great Hammerhead weighs about the same as a piano.
  • A pregnant female will carry her eggs for 8-10 months
  • Hammerheads give live birth to pups that were hatched from egg cases inside the female’s uterus. They give birth to many pups in one litter, sometimes as many as 40.
  • Of the nine species, only one (the Great Hammerhead) is considered a danger to humans because of its large size and aggressive nature.
  • Read about current threats to global shark populations here.

Distributionmap of hammerhead sharks

They are found in temperate and tropical regions around the globe and are found in both nearshore and offshore waters usually between 1-300 meters in depth. Hot spots include Colombia, Costa Rica (Cocos Island), and Hawaii.

Status of the Hammerhead Shark

Of the 9 species found worldwide, seven of them have been evaluated by the IUCN Red List. The Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) is listed as Endangered with a decreasing population.

  • Whitefin hammerhead (Sphyrna couardi) – Unevaluated
  • Carolina hammerhead (Sphyrna gilberti) – Unevaluated
  • Scoophead (Sphyrna media) – Currently not enough data
  • Bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo) – Least concern
  • Scalloped bonnethead (Sphyrna corona) – Status: Approaching Threatened
  • Smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena) – Status: Vulnerable
  • Golden hammerhead (Sphyrna tudes) – Status: Vulnerable
  • Great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) – Status: Endangered
  • Winghead shark (Eusphyra blochii) –Status: Endangered
  • Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) – Status: Endangered

Like other sharks around the world, they are under threat from bycatch in commercial fisheries as well as shark-finning, the practice of capturing sharks and removing their fins for commercial purposes.

Image of Hammerhead Shark in wild


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