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Great hammerhead

Scientific Name: Sphyrna mokarran
The great hammerhead sharkThe great hammerhead shark has a wide, thick head with the eyes at the margins. They are dark olive in color with a pale underside. The head is indented at the center of the "hammer," which is almost rectangular in shape. This shark is gray-brown above with an off-white belly. The first dorsal fin (the large fin on the top of the shark that most people associate with sharks) is very large and pointed. The shape of the head may make it more hydrodynamic or provide a greater area for detecting the electrical field of potential prey.

The average great hammerhead shark is up to 11.5 feet (3.5 m) long. These large sharks average about over 500 pounds (230 kg) but can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds (450 kg).

The great hammerhead is a fierce predator with a good sense of smell that helps it find its prey. The great hammerhead eats fish, including rays, and other sharks, squid, octopuses, and crustaceans. The great hammerhead is even known to be cannibalistic. Stingrays seem to be a particular favorite of the great hammerhead. It kills the ray by using its "hammer" to pin the stingray down while it takes bites from the ray's wings.

The great hammerhead sharks are considered to be dangerous and many attacks on human beings have been documented. However, many of its species are considered docile and harmless.

The great hammerhead swims in warm and relatively warm water along the coastlines. They live over the continental shelves and the adjacent drop-off (the upper part of the mesopelagic zone) to depths of about 260 feet (80 m). They also inhabit shallow reefs and are found at moderate depths offshore in all tropical waters. They can also be seen sometimes in water less than 1m deep. They are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters worldwide, but migrate seasonally towards cooler zones in summers.
The great hammerhead shark
Unlike their relatives the scalloped hammerheads, the great hammerheads are solitarysharks and prefer to live, hunt and chase alone.

Like most of the sharks, Hammerheads too, are viviparous, giving birth to totally developed live young, who then finds his way to life right from the beginning. The females give birth to 20-40 pups, which are about 70cm in length at birth.

The great hammerheads are not considered to be endangered although they are hunted for sport, and skin, which is used as leather. They were also hunted for their liver oil, which is very rich in Vitamin A.

Statistics: Females average 3.65m and males 2.85m, but the largest specimen recorded was 6.10m.

Great Hammerhead Shark Classification:

  • Kingdom Animalia (animals)
  • Phylum Chordata
  • SubPhylum Vertebrata (vertebrates)
  • Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)
  • Subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
  • Order Carcharhiniformes
  • Family Sphyrnidae
    • Genus Eusphyra
      • Species blochii: the winghead shark
    • Genus Sphyrna
      • Species corona: Scalloped bonnethead
      • Species couardi: Whitefin hammerhead
      • Species lewini: Scalloped hammerhead, bronze hammerhead, kidney-headed shark
      • Species media: Scoophead
      • Species mokarran: Great hammerhead
      • Species tiburo: Bonnethead, shovelhead, bonnet shark
      • Species tudes: Smalleye hammerhead
      • Species zygaena: Smooth hammerhead, balance fish, black hammerhead


Shark Info Sheet
Basking shark
Blue shark
Bronze whaler shark
Bull sharks
Dogfish shark
Dusky shark
Great hammerhead
Great White shark
Grey Reef Shark
Horn shark
Leopard shark
Oceanic whitetip
Salmon shark
Sand tiger sharks
Scalloped hammerhea-
Shortfin mako
Sixgill shark
Sleeper shark
Tiger shark
Whale shark
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