Scientific Name: Sphyrna mokarran
Common Name: Great Hammerhead Shark, Oceanic Hammerhead, and Flat Hammerhead.
Distribution and Habitat: The Great Hammerhead is a tropical and subtropical species that ranges from inshore shallow waters less than a few feet deep to around 80 m (230 feet) of depth offshore. Great Hammerheads favor drop offs near continental shelves as well as lagoons, coral reefs, and deep drop offs near islands. The Great Hammerhead is a very migratory species and travels great distances across open oceans for thousands of miles, often with the accompaniment of schools of pilot fish. Great Hammerheads can be found throughout the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean Polynesian islands, Australia, Coastal North and South America.
Anatomy and Appearance: The most notable distinguishing attribute of the Great Hammerhead is its uniquely expanded cephalofoil (head). This cephalofoil is the common attribute of all the Hammerhead shark species such as the: Smooth Hammerhead, Scalloped Hammerhead, Scalloped Bonnethead, Winghead Shark, Scoophead Shark, Whitefin Hammerhead, Bonnethead Shark, Carolina Hammerhead Shark, and the Smalleye/Golden Hammerhead. The average great hammerhead measures up to 3.5 m (11.5 ft) long and weighs over 230 kg (500 lb). The longest great hammerhead on record was 6.1 m (20 ft). The first dorsal fin of the Great Hammerhead is very distinctive as it is very tall and almost sickle shaped. The rest of its fins including its second dorsal, anal fin, caudal fin, and pectorals are all extremely large in relation to other shark species and are indicative of its nomadic migratory nature. The Great Hammerheads coloration can range from dark grey, to brown, to shades of mottled green which then shift into a faded white or creamy yellow ventral belly.
Diet, Hunting and Feeding Behavior: The Great Hammerhead is a solitary hunter, although has been known to spend much of its time around other reef shark species while hunting. However the Great Hammerhead is given a wide berth by other marine predators and is the undisputed king of the coral reef. Young Great Hammerheads are preyed upon by other large shark species such as the Bull Shark and Tiger Shark, but as a mature adult the Great Hammerhead has no natural predators. Its most common feeding times are concentrated during dusk and dawn. The Great Hammerhead hunts by swinging its great head (covered with electromagnetic receptors) across the bottom of the sea floor which alerts it to fish or rays hiding beneath the sand, this strategy coupled with their keen sense of smell makes the Great Hammerhead a formidable predator of the reef. The Great Hammerhead is known to actively hunt and prey upon the following: Bony fishes, crabs, lobsters, squids, octopus, and other sharks including smooth-hound sharks, grey reef sharks, and even young of their own kind. By far the favored prey of the Great Hammerhead are skates and rays. They seem especially fond of stingrays and have been caught quite commonly with sting ray tail barbs still embedded in their mouth and heads. These barbs however do not seem to dissuade the sharks appetite and seems to cause only a small amount of irritation unless embedded in a vital organ.
Note: This image is a stock image taken from online sources, this is not Namyr copyrighted work.