This shark's unusual name comes from the unusual shape of its head, an amazing piece of anatomy built to maximize the fish's ability to find its favorite meal: stingrays.
This shark's unusual name comes from the unusual shape of its head, an amazing piece of anatomy built to maximize the fish's ability to find its favorite meal: stingrays.
Photograph by Brian J. Skerry

Hammerhead Shark

This shark's unusual name comes from the unusual shape of its head, an amazing piece of anatomy built to maximize the fish's ability to find its favorite meal: stingrays.

Common Name:
Hammerhead Sharks
Scientific Name:
Sphyrnidae
Type:
Fish
Diet:
Carnivore
Group Name:
School, shoal
Average Life Span In The Wild:
20 to 30 years
Size:
13 to 20 feet
Weight:
500 to 1,000 pounds

A hammerhead shark uses its wide head to trap stingrays by pinning them to the seafloor. The shark's eye placement, on each end of its very wide head, allows it to scan more area more quickly than other sharks can. The hammerhead also has special sensors across its head that helps it scan for food in the ocean. Living creatures' bodies give off electrical signals, which are picked up by sensors on the prowling hammerhead.

The shark hunts alone, and can find stingrays that hide under the sand on the seafloor. Hammerheads also eat bony fishes, crabs, squid, lobsters, and other sea creatures. The upper sides of these fish are grayish-brown or olive-green and they have white bellies. They have very impressive triangular, serrated teeth—like the edge of a saw's blade. Hammerheads' mouths are on the underside of their heads.

Unlike many fish, hammerheads do not lay eggs. A female gives birth to live young. One litter can range from six to about 50 pups. When a hammerhead pup is born, its head is more rounded than its parents'.

There have been very few recorded attacks on people by the great hammerhead.