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Hammerhead shark facts for kids

Hammerhead sharks are skilled hunters who use the peculiar shapes of their heads to help them locate prey. They belong to the family Sphyrnidae. Their unconventional and distinctive head structure, which is flattened and laterally stretched into the shape of a “hammer,” is known as a cephalofoil. While the winghead shark is assigned to its genus, Eusphyra, most hammerhead species are put in Sphyrna. The cephalofoil has been proposed to have a variety of roles, but which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Around the world, hammerheads can be found in warmer waters near shorelines and continental shelves. Compared to most shark species, some hammerhead species spend the day swimming in groups and transform into lone hunters at night.

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Here are some facts about the hammerhead shark. 

The Hammerhead shark uses its head to find prey!

Hammerhead shark uses its head to find prey

A hammerhead shark pins stingrays to the ocean floor with its broad head to capture them. The placement of the eyes, which are situated on the sides of the shark’s distinctive hammer-shaped head, provides for 360-degree vertical vision, allowing the animals to always see above and below them. The shark can scan a larger area more quickly than other sharks because of the placement of its eyes on either end of its extensive head. Additionally, the hammerhead possesses unique sensors across its head that enable it to search the ocean for food. Sensors on the prowling hammerhead detect the electrical signals emitted by living things. As a result, they also have improved binocular vision and depth of field.

There are ten species of hammerhead sharks.

Sphyrna
Sphyrna

One hammerhead species has its genus (Sphyrna), while nine others share the same (Eusphyra). Sphyrna, the name of the genus, is derived from the Greek word for “hammer.” The name Eusphyra is derived from the Greek words for “hammer” and “good” or “truth.” The ten hammerhead species are as follows:

Great Hammerhead
  • Great Hammerhead
  • Smooth Hammerhead
  • Scalloped Bonnethead
  • Scalloped Hammerhead
  • Scoophead Shark
  • Winghead Shark
  • Smalleye Hammerhead
  • Whitefin Hammerhead
  • Bonnethead Shark
  • Carolina Hammerhead

They hunt alone.

Hammerheads are ferocious hunters who prey on smaller fish, squid, octopuses, and crustaceans. These sharks typically hunt alone at night, but during the summer, when they migrate in search of calmer waters, it’s normal to encounter them in bigger groups. The Great Hammerhead shark migrates over great distances, up to 756 miles (1,200 km), alone and not in huge groups, unlike the scalloped hammerhead shark. The lone hunter, which has a cephalofoil-shaped head and a metal detector, scans the sand for electrical signals from its favorite prey, stingrays, like a beachgoer with a metal detector. No matter how well-hidden a stingray is, it has little chance of escaping once discovered.

They do not lay eggs.

In the oceans around the world, there are more than 500 different species of sharks, and most of them deliver live young. Others are oviparous, which means they lay eggs. Hammerhead sharks do not produce eggs. As viviparous animals, hammerhead sharks carry fertilized eggs inside their bodies and give birth to live offspring from 2 to 42. The great hammerhead gives birth to several dozen offspring, whereas smaller species only produce a handful. Females often give birth in shallow, safe coastal waters during spring and summer. The young will remain in these locations until they get larger and can migrate into deeper offshore seas without danger.

Hammerhead sharks aren’t affected by stingray venom.

stingray venom

In humans, stingray barbs have been linked to fever, nausea, edema, and even seizures. The barbs are highly sharp and have caused some fatalities. Hammerhead sharks don’t appear to mind; numerous large hammerhead sharks have been discovered with stingray barb fragments lodged in their faces. Scientists think they are immune to the stingray venom, making it easier for the hammerhead shark to prey on them. 

Hammerhead sharks are rather friendly with humans.

Hammerhead sharks are rather friendly with humans

The majority of hammerhead species are small and are thought to be harmless to people. The great hammerhead’s colossal size and ferocity make it potentially deadly. The jaws of hammerheads are likewise abnormally tiny compared to their other shark relatives. Only 17 incidents have been reported worldwide, and none have resulted in deaths. Most incidents happened when the sharks were agitated or mistakenly ensnared in fisher nets.

The largest hammerhead shark was 14 feet long!

largest hammerhead shark was 14 feet long

The largest hammerhead shark ever captured was 14 feet 7 inches long. Greg Norman, a former professional golfer, caught this gigantic creature in 2019 off Palm Beach, Florida. Norman and his companion were in the middle of catching a blacktip shark, when this huge hammerhead shark approached and started circling them. Norman then decided to catch it! The blacktip shark attempted to bite the hammerhead, but unfortunately, the hammerhead shark grabbed it by the line and swallowed it completely. Norman’s shark is 4 inches longer than the recognized world record, coming in at a hair over 14 feet 7 inches.

The average hammerhead shark weighs around 500 pounds (230kgs).

The most famous great hammerhead is a female who was taken off Boca Grande, Florida, in 2006. It was 4.4 meters (14 feet) long and weighed 580 kilograms (1,280 pounds). Although smaller sizes are typical, hammerhead sharks can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

Hammerhead sharks might be the key to treating skin cancer!

Hammerhead sharks might be the key to treating skin cancer
Cancer Cells

Sharks have never been known to develop skin cancer. Some hammerhead sharks can tan, going from a light brown to practically all black color, due to their inclination to stay around in shallow waters. The researchers equipped their sharks’ pectoral fins with opaque filters to better understand what was occurring. The skin behind the filter was left paler than skin that had been exposed to the sun as a result of them partially blocking UV rays. It may be crucial to research how hammerhead sharks can get a tan without developing cancer to learn how to treat and prevent melanoma. If their secret is discovered, it might completely alter how we treat human melanoma.

The great hammerhead swims sideways.

Five large hammerhead sharks living in the wild were fitted with GoPro cameras as part of a tagging study in 2016. The sharks were observed swimming 90 percent of the time, leaning to one side, typically at an inclination of 50 to 75 degrees. 

The first dorsal fin of a hammerhead is believed to function like one of the pectoral fins when the animal rolls sideways. The animal’s “wingspan” increases while drag is decreased. The shark can swim more effectively because of both characteristics. An average shark has eight body fins. The first dorsal fin, which frequently functions like a sailboat keel and aids the shark in maintaining balance while swimming, is probably the most noticeable. Sharks also have a pair of pectoral fins that are used by the majority of species to steer and create lift. These fins are on either side of the body, just behind the head. The pectoral fins are typically longer than the first dorsal in sharks, but this is not the case for great hammerheads. And that significantly influences how these creatures move.

Hammerhead sharks have better depth perception than other sharks. 

Research reveals that hammerhead sharks’ binocular overlap is up to three times greater than that of lemon and blacknose sharks, both of which have cone-shaped snouts. That implies that, when compared to other sharks, hammerheads have better depth awareness. The disadvantage of having eyes that are so far apart is that hammerheads have a sizable blind area at the tip of their snouts.

The first hammerhead shark appeared 45 million years ago

hammerhead shark appeared 45 million years ago

Hammerhead sharks come in at least ten different species. While fossilized teeth indicate that their progenitors may have lived 45 million years ago, mMolecular evidence suggests that they first appeared during the Neogene, which began 23 million years ago. Although certain shark species have been referred to as dinosaurs since they coexisted with them, the hammerhead is not one of them. They are pretty recent in terms of shark presence on Earth and are considered the youngest living group of sharks. 

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Conclusion 

The Hammerhead shark is an essential component of the coastal marine ecology since it is an apex predator. Hammerhead sharks maintain species diversity and harmony with their rivals by feeding on species that are lower on the food chain than they are. Hammerhead sharks and other apex predators ensure that sick and damaged animals are removed from their environments to maintain the ecosystem’s health.