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Hammerhead Shark

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There are several species of Hammerheads sharks.
     Great Hammerheads
     Scalloped Hammerheads
     Smooth Hammerheads
to name a few.  A new species is purported in SC (new classification though the only difference from Scallops is an additional vertebra and slight genetic variance).  All these species traverse the hot and cold waters of the east coast of North America. 

     Hammerheads are known for the distinctive snout, which bears bar bells on either side reminiscent of a hammer shape.  This is both distinctive and very important to nature of this Shark species.  They rely on the wide set eyes and the extra-sensitive array afforded them by this design.  They have a broader sensory array on the front their head than do many other species.  There wide set eyes provide almost more viewing range than other Shark species have.  This design gives them quite a bit of information for prey location and detection.

     Hammerheads tend to be a schooling species.  For the most part they can be a social species.  They travel and migrate in packs and when they move into shallow waters to hunt they may also do this in large groups.  I have observed juveniles hunting in small packs nearly every summer.  It ay give them cover or be a learned survival trait due to the advantage of packing and trapping prey.  I have seen juveniles of varying size together which would rule out packs of spawn from a single mother.  I have also observed their inclusion of Bonnethead sharks in their feeding packs.  They may also allow other non-Sphyrnid species to pack with them.  Juveniles hunt in close proximity to several other species during the pupping season.  They can hunt alone even as newborns.  So, it should not be assumed that all individuals form up to feed.

     They used to visit the beaches of Garden City and Myrtle Beach for one week each year on their journey south.  They would be seen by the dozens moving through the surf feeding.   Surfers had to vacate the waves for a few days until the packs moved on to warmer waters.  However, at present, the migratory path of these animals has changed.   And, they have not been reported cavorting off Garden City and Myrtle Beach since Hurricane Hugo.  No one is certain of the sudden change.  It may also include avoiding once favorite diver spots off NC where they could be viewed schooling by the hundreds. 

    They tend to be quite aggressive when  hooked or harassed, though they tend to be deceptively docile when uncertain of another animal or when they feel no threat.  Given their size and strength, they can be quite dangerous.  They should be considered a species to be avoided if it all possible while diving or  snorkeling.   If hooked while fishing, be extremely careful of large size specimens.  These sharks can exceed 22 feet in length.


schh_profile.jpg (12580 bytes)
Scalloped Hammerhead

hhblue.jpg (54993 bytes)

from >10  foot
Great Hammerhead

Note the double bulbous shape of the upper and lower jaws.  Sets tend to be narrow due to small width of specie's head.   Teeth are elongated similar to those of a Mako with a pronounced flatness on one side (Great HH).  Teeth are not large.

Scalloped HH Photos
Body Dorsal
Nostril Channels