Hammerhead Sharks

Common Name:
Hammerhead Sharks
Scientific Name:
Sphyrnidae
Type:
Fish
Diet:
Carnivore
Group Name:
School, shoal
Average Life Span In The Wild:
20 to 30 years
Size:
13 to 20 feet
Weight:
500 to 1,000 pounds

Hammerhead sharks are consummate predators that use their oddly shaped heads to improve their ability to find prey.

Unique Traits

Their wide-set eyes give them a better visual range than most other sharks. And by spreading their highly specialized sensory organs over their wide, mallet-shaped head, they can more thoroughly scan the ocean for food.

One group of sensory organs is the ampullae of Lorenzini, which allows sharks to detect, among other things, the electrical fields created by prey animals. The hammerhead's increased ampullae sensitivity allows it to find its favorite meal, stingrays, which usually bury themselves under the sand.

Population

The great hammerhead is the largest of the nine identified species of this shark. It can grow up to 20 feet in length and weigh up to 1,000 pounds, although smaller sizes are more common.

Found in temperate and tropical waters worldwide, far offshore and near shorelines, hammerheads are often seen in mass summer migrations seeking cooler water. They are gray-brown to olive-green on top with off-white undersides, and they have heavily serrated, triangular teeth. Their extra-tall, pointed dorsal fins are easily identifiable.

Interactions with Humans

Most hammerhead species are fairly small and are considered harmless to humans. However, the great hammerhead's enormous size and fierceness make it potentially dangerous, though few attacks have been recorded.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Jongsung Ryu, National Geographic Your Shot

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