The hammerhead shark.
[insert pity chuckles here]
- Winghead shark
- Scalloped bonnethead
- Whitefin hammerhead
- Scalloped hammerhead
- Great hammerhead
- Smalleye hammerhead
- Smooth hammerhead
The shape of their head allows them to almost be like metal detectors… except for food. Actually, when put that way, I kind of wish I was a hammerhead.
Anyways. With their eyes set where they are (at the end of the “hammer,” or scientifically known as the “wings”) they can see all around them… except in front of them. But they’ve got their mad electric sensory organs to cover that area. These organs help pick up vibrations and movements of their prey when they don’t see them.
It’s like if you were groping around in the dark for a midnight snack and had senses to tell where the fridge was hiding.
They’re also got a great sense of smell… again, equate it to you sniffing your fridge out.
(I shouldn’t be doing these posts in the middle of the night on an empty stomach. Cripes.)
Female hammerhead sharks give live birth to pups, having 20-40 of them, and a good percentage of the young hammerheads will survive. (See post here about a video of a hammerhead shark giving birth—scroll down to “recreational fishing” portion)
Hammerheads are actually really shy. When I went diving in the Galapagos, I had to hold my breath because this great predator was afraid of my bubbles.
I’m sorry, I had to. I regret nothing.
In March 2013, NRDC submitted a petition to list the northwest Atlantic population of the great hammerhead shark as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After conducting a scientific review, the government has announced that it will not propose a listing at this time.
Great hammerheads are a prime example of sharks who have a high mortality rate. Yet, they are not getting Endangered Species protection (which is silly in my POV, but I digress).
Another recent study found that, out of five shark species, great hammerheads suffered the highest post-release stress, indicating that even if a great hammerhead survives capture it is likely to die after it is released.
These are an important animal in our oceans and are vital to their ecosystems. Hammerheads are also victims to bycatch, longline fishing and are sometimes targeted for their meat. Also while in the Galapagos, I witnessed shark finning of these great animals and the absolute waste was sickening. Great hammerheads are especially vulnerable for their large fins. Of the nine 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. The Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) is also listed as Endangered. Other species are in decline or their population trends are currently unknown.
A hammerhead, great white and a tiger shark walk into bar….
Well, this makes the world an even more dangerous place at 3am on a weekend, don’t you think?