The great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran, is the largest species of hammerhead shark. These sharks have a flat hammer-shaped head with a notch at the center located along the front edge. The first dorsal fin is very high and curved; the second dorsal and pelvic fins are high with deeply concave rear margins. They are light gray or gray-brown on the dorsal side, white on the ventral side and fins lack conspicuous markings.
Great hammerhead can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) long, but such sizes are seldom observed. Most specimen grow to about 11.5 feet (3,5 meters) long and weight over 500 lb (230 kg). The heaviest specimen was recorded at 1,280 lb (580 kg), a female caught off Florida in 2006. They are a very longevous as their average lifespan is around 40 years.
According to the IUCN red list of threatened species, they are considered endangered. The main reason is the quality and size of their fins which is the main ingredient of shark fin soup, a meal very popular in Asia. However, due to recent international pressure, shark fin sales have plummeted. We hope that this trend will help restore its population to a more sustainable level.
The great hammerhead inhabits tropical waters around the world, between the latitudes of 40°N and 37°S. They are widespread and are found close inshore and well offshore, over the continental shelves, island terraces, and in passes and lagoons. This means that they are a common sight in the Bahamas, so you are bound to meet them. They appear widely throughout the world’s oceans in depths ranging from 3 to 900 feet (1 to 300 meters).
Diving with The great hammerhead
Unlike the tiger shark and the oceanic whitetip, the great hammerhead is typically thought of as a shy shark. It is a strong swimmer and can be hard to keep up with. It is rarely aggressive to humans and can be watched and observed without much worry, should you behave with the respect it deserves. Although it has a wide range of sea creatures on its diet, its favorite prey are stingrays. A duel between a hammerhead and a stingray can be really exciting to watch. While diving with great hammerheads in Bimini, guests can rest comfortably in the sand and enjoy the show as the sharks repeatedly circle the group and investigate the bait. Contact us for more information about our great hammerhead shark diving expeditions.
Check out this great guide on great hammerhead sharks from The Shark Trust.