Which shark worked in construction?
The hammerhead shark.
[insert pity chuckles here]
The hammerhead sharks make up the Sphyrnidae family, and are one of the more unique sharks. That’s exactly why you can’t confused it with any other… except members of its own family. Well, at least you can sort of tell them apart!
There are TEN different species of hammerhead sharks:
The largest of these is the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), getting up to 6 m (20 ft) and 170 kg (600 lbs). Most other species only grow to 4 m (13ft). Hammerheads usually live up 25 -35 years. All are a light to dark gray color with a green tint, with a white underbelly.
Hammerheads like warmer coastal waters, migrating to cooler waters in the summer. They are usually deep below the surface, but are known to frequent shallower waters (when Melissa was in the Bahamas with the BBFS lab, they saw hammerheads casually swimming right by the shore).
The shape of their head allows them to almost be like metal detectors… except for they detect food (best kind of super power, to be honest). With their eyes set where they are (at the end of the “hammer,” or scientifically known as the “wings”) they can see all around them… except in front of them. But they’ve got their mad electric sensory organs to cover that area. These organs help pick up vibrations and movements of their prey when they don’t see them.
It’s like if you were groping around in the dark for a midnight snack and had senses to tell where the fridge was hiding. They’re also got a great sense of smell… again, equate it to you sniffing your fridge out.
Hammerheads aren't too picky- they eat small fish, rays, smaller sharks, squids, and when desperate, eat other hammerheads. Hooray cannibalism! (Note: This is not Melissa endorsing cannibalism… she's just saying stuff happens. Cannibalism is frowned upon in the human world, not so much in the animal world. Though she's sure mama hammerhead isn't happy that pup #8 is munching on its siblings that she worked so hard to make.)
Female hammerhead sharks give live birth to pups, having 20-40 of them, and a good percentage of the young hammerheads will survive. Also, can we talk about how these sharks can asexually reproduce? Female hammerhead sharks need no man… literally. Although these babies seldom live long, the fact that these animals have the ability to do this is astounding.
In March 2013, NRDC submitted a petition to list the northwest Atlantic population of the great hammerhead shark as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After conducting a scientific review, the government has announced that it will not propose a listing at this time.
Great hammerheads are a prime example of sharks who have a high mortality rate. Yet, they are not getting Endangered Species protection (which is silly in Melissa's POV, but she digresses).
Another recent study found that, out of five shark species, great hammerheads suffered the highest post-release stress, indicating that even if a great hammerhead survives capture it is likely to die after it is released.
These are an important animal in our oceans and are vital to their ecosystems. Hammerheads are also victims to bycatch, longline fishing and are sometimes targeted for their meat. Also while in the Galapagos, Melissa witnessed finning of these great animals and the absolute waste was sickening (great hammerheads are especially vulnerable for their large fins). Not all species have been assessed by the IUCN. Species are in decline or their population trends are currently unknown.
Now that we have made you sad, enjoy a happy hammerhead video:
which is your favorite species from this family?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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