10 cool things about the hammerhead shark

The hammerhead shark has such a peculiar head that he is easily identifiable from all the other sharks. Find out why he looks like this and what else is cool about this underwater creature.

1. Stating the obvious

One of nature’s weirder-looking creatures, it’s not hard to see how the hammerhead shark got his name. His scientific name is Sphyrnidae.

2. Shark vision

Scientists believe that this shark’s unique head helps improve his hunting skills. His eyes are placed on the outer edges of the hammer, which allows for a 360-degree view – therefore he can see better than other kinds of shark. He has a blind spot though, because of the placement of his eyes, directly in front of his head!

3. Catching some sun

Even though he lives in the water, the hammerhead is one of few animals who can get suntanned! This happens because he likes to wade in shallow water or near the surface of the ocean for long periods of time.

4. Different shapes and sizes

There are nine different species of hammerhead shark. Most of them have similar-shaped heads (the head is called the cephalofoil) – except for the scoophead, bonnethead and scalloped bonnethead sharks. These three sharks’ heads more closely resemble the end of a shovel than a hammer.

5. Super senses

While swimming around in the ocean the hammerhead might look rather expressionless, but he is very aware of what is going on around him. The hammerhead can pick up vibrations with his electroreceptors: tiny, sensitive organs that identify currents in the water. For example, a hammerhead shark will be able to feel the heartbeat of a human who is located several kilometres away.

6. Fast mover

The hammerhead’s body is designed so that he can make very sudden and sharp turns. His oddly-shaped head also helps him to do this, since it acts as a balancing organ.

7. Dinner is served!

The hammerhead likes to munch on stingrays. He hunts them by swimming close to the ocean floor, sneaking up on an unsuspecting stingray who is buried in the sand. The shark then pins down his meal before it can sting, and eats it bite by bite while still alive! Apart from stingrays, the hammerhead will also eat fish, squid, octopuses and crustaceans.

8. Group activity

While many species of shark prefer to live and hunt alone, some hammerheads, like the scalloped hammerhead, live and hunt in schools, sometimes just below the water’s surface. Hundreds of individuals can belong to one school of scalloped hammerheads.

9. Bad romance

The male hammerhead shark is not the most romantic fellow. Once a year, when the time comes for breeding, he will violently bite the female until she agrees to mate with him. Hammerheads don’t lay eggs, but give birth to live babies called pups. The pups can fend for themselves as soon as they’re born, and the parents don’t care for them in any way.

10. It’s a shark!

It’s very unlikely that you will be attacked by a hammerhead. Only three species have attacked humans in the past: the great hammerhead, the smooth hammerhead and the scalloped hammerhead. However, there were very few attacks and none of them were fatal.


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