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All About the Hammerhead Shark: The All-Seeing Shark


If you have any shark music on your playlist, now might be the best time to play it. I don’t care if it’s the theme song for Jaws or a nursery rhyme like Baby Shark––just play it! The hammerhead shark is a beautiful sea creature known for its weirdly shaped head. However, be it weird, but it serves more use than you think it does. In fact, it gives them the advantage in the waters––giving them better visual range and better chances of catching prey compared to most of the other members of the shark family.

Specifically, in the hammerhead family (called the Sphyrnidae, if you like getting scientific), there are about nine main species of the shark. However, they’re generally just grouped as hammerheads. Sure, they’re oddly satisfying to look at, but remember that these guys are sharks and they’re feared under the water. Predators at their own volition, the hammerhead shark is one of the most interesting fish friends we have to date.

Description and Appearance

If you were put on the spot to say anything about the hammerhead shark, you’d probably say that its head looks like a hammer––and I would totally give it to you. In that oddly-shaped head of theirs, you might be wondering where their eyes are at. Well, their eyes are on both sides of the “hammer,” per se. This gives them better visual acuity and range compared to most members of the shark family. Not only that, but alongside the goblin shark, hammerhead sharks also have the ampullae of Lorenzini––an organ that allows them to detect their preys’ electrical fields. Think of it as a metal detector looking for buried metals––it functions a lot like that.

As for how they look, hammerhead sharks exhibit what’s known as countershading––a common trait among marine species to help blend in with their environments. As you may have noticed, hammerhead sharks have grey (or almost dark green, even) coloration on their backs and are dominantly colored white at the bottom. Hammerhead sharks are pretty big creatures and can reach up to more than 20 feet long. Undoubtedly huge, these sharks can weigh at an average of 200kg but are easily capable of reaching double that at 400kg. Jeez Louise! I’m pretty sure 20 feet long and 400kg heavy aren’t your optimal pet statistics, but what if we offered you a 40cm and very soft plushie? Will that turn the tides around? Gage Beasley’s Hammerhead Shark Soft Stuffed Plush Toy should do the trick then! Chances are you won’t be seeing yourself best friends with a real hammerhead shark, but chances of you hugging them to sleep? Pretty much reachable.

 

Gage Beasley’s Hammerhead Shark Soft Stuffed Plush Toy

Look at those beautiful, innocent-looking eyes begging you to adopt it. How can a shark be this irresistible, huh?

Diet and Ecology

Now that you know how enormous hammerhead sharks can get, this is the very same reason these sharks are capable of absolutely destroying their prey. When they feel like they haven’t eaten for months, hammerheads sharks go on a crazy eating spree––treating everything in its way food. It’s been known that they aren’t very picky with what they eat. They’re happy with eating fish, squid, crabs, lobsters, and honestly every little thing in the ocean. They gather in groups during the daytime to look for food or any suitable breeding ground. Unfortunately for humans, there have been cases where hammerhead sharks have attacked humans on numerous occasions. Though not known to be very aggressive, they’re very dangerous to be around. Divers and the likes have been advised to stay away from them, too. Bonnethead sharks are the only hammerhead shark relatives who have been observed to have seagrass in their stomachs––making them the only species of omnivorous  (an animal that eats both plant and animal) sharks. However, scientists err on the side of caution as they’re unsure whether or not bonnetheads do eat seagrass or have preyed on an animal that eats it.

In the wild, hammerhead sharks can live up to 30 years! Most of the time, they spend their years isolating themselves and prefer hunting and tracking down food solo.

Reproduction

Hammerhead sharks reproduce mostly during the spring and summer months. This breeding pattern has been observed annually compared to other sharks’ sporadic seasons. How they breed is very interesting, or how it’s requested by the males. Apparently, the male bites the female violently until she allows him to mate with her. It’s still the female’s choice, though, as she can just chase him away if she doesn’t want anything to do with the male. Girl power, am I right? This process could take a lot of hours or just until the female submits to the mating. Gladly, these sharks’ skins are very thick––making this absurd mating ritual harmless for the hammerhead sharks. Some females, however, do have scars from the male’s bites.

Hammerhead sharks fertilize their eggs internally so that the young have a safe environment to develop in. After 10 to 12 months of gestating, the females give birth to the young preferably in shallower waters. After being born to, they are left to themselves and can dive deeper into the water when they are older.

Distribution and Conservation Status

Along the coastline and the continental plates, you’ll find these hammerhead sharks. Just like many sea creatures, these sharks prefer warm bodies of water––especially the oceans. They’ve shown quite an intelligent sense of temperature as they’re known to migrate when the seasons change. During the summer, they move to the poles while during the winter, they move towards the equator. The hammerhead shark population is dense around Eastern and Southern Africa, Costa Rica, and Hawaii.

Sadly, the hammerhead shark population has been declining––even some species are considered threatened and critically endangered. Just like similar marine species, the likes of habitat loss, climate change, water pollution, and overfishing have threatened the species’ existence. Thanks to the efforts of the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the hammerhead shark’s protection has heightened and has been promoted.

Conclusion:

Honestly speaking, the hammerhead shark is one of the most unique-looking species of fish in the water. When we were kids, we believed that after the great white shark, these things were the best beasts in the water. Today, maybe learning about their all-seeing features and how their hammer-looking heads help them forage made them a lot cooler than before. I mean, being a hammer and a shark at the same time––our small brains were bound to be blown.

Now, however, sharks and many aquatic species are facing the threats of the outside world. As far as they’re concerned, they’ve only been following the food cycle and constantly reproducing to keep the sea beautiful and gracefully alive. None of their lives should be in danger if they’re just doing their jobs. May this article lets us realize that no matter how unfriendly these hammerhead sharks are to humans, it’s just their natural instinct to battle fellow predators. Humans, being the more rational of the two, should be involved in saving this species. It’s not every day you’ll see an animal that looks like a hammer, anyway.

 

Cheers!

~GB

 

 


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