5 Hammerhead Shark Fun Facts We Bet You Didn't Know
Perhaps the most obviously recognizable fish in the world, hammerhead sharks are a true wonder of the sea. While most people think of the Great Hammerhead as the only hammerhead, there are at least nine species of this shark. While they do all have oddly shaped heads, they don’t all look alike. The known species of hammerhead sharks are as follows:
- Great Hammerhead
- Scalloped Bonnethead
- Smooth Hammerhead
- Whitefin Hammerhead
- Smalleye Hammerhead
- Winghead Shark
- Scalloped Hammerhead
Ready to dive into the world of hammerheads? Here are some little known hammerhead shark fun facts to help you get a better picture of these incredible creatures.
1. Their Head Shape Gives Them an Advantage
One of the most visually striking facts about hammerhead sharks is that their oddly shaped heads, known as cephalofoils, help them locate and hunt prey. Like all sharks, hammerheads have sensory organs that provide insight into where prey is located. It is possible that because their head is so large, they actually have more of these senses, giving them a competitive edge over other sharks. The placement of their eyes also allows them to see 360 degrees around them. This lets them know what is going on above and below them, again giving them an advantage over other sharks when it comes to hunting. However, they do have a blind spot directly in front of their head. Finally, species like the Great Hammerhead use their heads to trap prey on the ocean floor, like stingrays.
2. They Give Birth To Live Young
Here’s something we have in common with hammerheads: they give birth to live young. While they are classified as fish, they do not lay eggs. Rather they have internal fertilization and for Great Hammerhead Sharks, a gestation period of 11 months. Female hammerheads give birth to 6 to 42 ‘pups,’ or baby sharks, around every two years. Learning the ways that humans have commonalities with sharks is a great way to find hammerhead shark fun facts to share!
3. Some Travel Together in Schools
While many sharks prefer a solitary existence, there are certain hammerhead species, like the Scalloped Hammerhead and the Smooth Hammerhead, that move together in a school. As they are apex predators, they don’t need to swim together for protection, but they do so anyway. It is argued that perhaps they swim together for migratory purposes or mating. At night, however, the school disperses and the hammerheads go their separate ways.
4. Parthenogenesis Has Been Observed in a Hammerhead
This is maybe one of the most unusual hammerhead shark facts! Parthenogenesis, or the phenomenon of a female fertilizing her own egg without sperm, has been observed in a Bonnethead shark. In 2001, a female Bonnethead surprised workers at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo by giving birth even though she hadn’t been around a male in three years. The pup’s DNA confirmed that it had only come from the mother, meaning that the shark had reproduced on her own.
5. Three Species are Endangered
Unfortunately, this is not one of the most fun hammerhead shark fun facts. Like many sea creatures, three species of hammerhead sharks are at risk of extinction. These include the Great Hammerhead, the Winghead, and the Scalloped Hammerhead. They are greatly threatened by the commercial fishing trade who catch them as “bycatch,” in other words, accidentally, as well as on purpose for shark finning, whereby their fins are removed for human consumption, and their bodies are thrown back into the ocean to die. To put it into perspective, once a Great Hammerhead is captured by fisheries, there is a 90% chance that it won’t survive. Habitat erosion, climate change, noise from boats, and pollution are also taking a negative toll on hammerhead populations.
Get to Know More About Sharks
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