Let’s Talk About: Hammerhead Sharks

Since Michael Phelps is apparently going to race a shark for Shark Week (which I assume will take 2 minutes, meaning we’ll have to sit through 28 minutes of stupid commercials and bullshit interviews about how Michael Phelps has a chance), I thought it might be an appropriate time to talk about hammerhead sharks, cause they’re kinda funny looking, but also kinda terrifying.  And sure, they aren’t the biggest sharks out there, and they sometimes get eaten by tiger sharks, but hey, who am I to judge.  At the end of the day, they are one of the most interesting looking species out there.  So let’s talk about hammerhead sharks.

Hammerhead sharks aren’t actually just one type of shark, but 10.  The most popular/largest is the great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), which can grow to be 20 ft long, and weigh 1,000 pounds.  The other hammerhead sharks are the whitefin hammerhead (Sphyrna couardi), the Carolina hammerhead (Sphyrna gilberti), the scoophead (Sphyrna media), bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo), the scalloped bonnethead (Sphyrna corona), the smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena), the golden hammerhead (Sphyrna tudes), the winghead shark (Eusphyra blochii), and the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini).  Hammerhead sharks typically hunt solo, but have been known to form massive, 500 individual large, schools- something pretty uncommon for sharks.  These groups have their own internal hierarchy, typically based on sex, age, and size, and are believed to help keep the sharks safe from larger predators.

The most unique aspect about them, however, is definitely the shape of their head.  Looking more like a comb than a hammer, their “hammerhead” allows them to better hunt prey.  Since their eyes are on the ends of their head, they see a better range than other sharks, and their elongated head spreads out their ampullae of Lorenzini in a very effective way.  For those of you not in the know, the ampullae of Lorenzini allow sharks to detect electric fields, and are essentially jelly filled pores that sharks have on their heads.  These electric field detectors help sharks find prey using the fields that the fish generate themselves.  For hammerheads in particular, their improved detection allows them to easily find rays buried in the sand, their preferred meal.

Really though, let’s just look at some sick videos of em:

For more hammerhead info, check out these links:

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/hammerhead-shark/

http://www.sharks-world.com/hammerhead_shark/

https://a-z-animals.com/animals/hammerhead-shark/