The hammerhead shark is one of the most unusual marine life. It stands out sharply against the background of other inhabitants of the deep sea by the shape of the head. Visually, it seems that this fish is experiencing terrible discomfort when moving.
This shark is considered one of the most dangerous and strong predatory fish. In the history of existence, scientists cite cases of attacks on humans as well. According to the rating, it takes an honorable third place on the podium of merciless bloodthirsty predators, second only to the white and tiger sharks.
In addition to the unusual appearance, the fish is distinguished by its high speed of movement, the presence of lightning-fast reactions, and its impressive size. Particularly large individuals can reach a length of more than 6 meters.
Origin of the species and description
Hammerhead sharks belong to the class cartilaginous fishes, the carchariform order, the family of hammerhead sharks, are isolated in the genus of hammerhead sharks, the species is a giant hammerhead shark. Hammerhead fish, in turn, is divided into 9 subspecies.
To date, there is no reliable information about the exact period of the birth of these representatives of flora and fauna. According to the results of the research, zoologists came to the conclusion that presumably the ancestors of modern hammerhead predators already existed in the depths of the sea 20-26 million years ago. It is generally accepted that these fish originated from representatives of the sphyrnidae family.
Video: Hammer shark
These predators have a very threatening look and a very specific shape of the head. It is flattened, elongated on the sides and as if divided into two halves. It is this feature that largely determines the way of life and the nature of the diet of marine predators.
To date, scientists have disagreed about the formation of such forms. Some believe that this appearance is the result of millions of changes, others believe that a gene mutation played a role.
At the moment, the number of fossils from which it is possible to recreate the evolutionary path of hammerhead predators is negligible. This is due to the fact that the basis of the shark's body – the skeleton, does not consist of bone tissue, but of cartilage, which decomposes rather quickly without leaving any traces.
For many millions of years, due to their unusual appearance, hammerhead sharks have learned to use not the organs of vision, but special receptors for hunting. They allow fish to see and find their prey even through the sand.
Appearance and Features
The appearance of these representatives of marine flora and fauna is very peculiar and very threatening. They are difficult to confuse with any other species. They have an amazingly shaped head, which, due to the bone outgrowth, is elongated and elongated to the sides. On both sides of this outgrowth are the organs of vision. The iris of the eyes is golden yellow. However, they are not the main guide and assistant in the search for prey.
The skin of the so-called hammer is densely dotted with special super-sensitive receptors that allow you to pick up the slightest signals of a living being. Thanks to such receptors, sharks managed to perfectly master the skill of hunting, so the victim has practically no chance of salvation.
The eyes of fish are protected by a nictitating membrane and eyelids. The eyes are located exactly opposite each other, which allows sharks to keep in sight almost the entire territory around them. This arrangement of the eyes allows you to cover the territory 360 degrees.
Not so long ago, there was a theory that it was this shape of the head that helped the fish to maintain balance and develop greater speed when moving underwater. However, today this theory has been completely dispelled, since it has no evidence base.
Scientists have proven that balance is maintained due to the unusual structure of the spine. A characteristic feature of bloodthirsty hunters is the structure and arrangement of teeth. They are triangular in shape, directed towards the corners of the mouth and have visible serrations.
The body of the fish is smooth, elongated, has the shape of a spindle with well-developed, strong muscles. From above, the body of the shark has a dark blue color, from below, off-white color prevails. Thanks to this coloration, they practically merge with the sea.
This type of marine predator rightfully bears the title of giants. The average body length is 4-5 meters. However, in some regions there are individuals reaching a length of 8-9 meters.
Where does the hammerhead shark live?
This type of fish does not have a strictly limited area of habitat. They like to move from one region to another, travel long distances. Mostly prefer regions with a warm, temperate and tropical climate.
The largest number of this species of marine predators is observed near the Hawaiian Islands. That is why the study of the characteristics of life and evolution is practically only carried out by the Hawaiian Research Institute. Hammerhead fish lives in the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
Regions of marine predators:
- from Uruguay to North Carolina;
- from Peru to California;
- Coast of Morocco;
- French Polynesia;
- Ryukyu Islands ;
- Western Sahara;
- Sierra Leone.
There are hammerhead sharks in the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, in the Gulf of Mexico. Bloodthirsty predators like to congregate near coral reefs, sea plumes, stone sea cliffs, etc. They feel great at almost any depth, both in shallow water and in the open spaces of the ocean with a depth of more than 70-80 meters. Gathering in flocks, they can get as close to the coast as possible, or go out into the open ocean. This type of fish is subject to migration – in the warm season they migrate to regions of higher latitudes.
Now you know where the hammerhead shark is found. Let's see what this fish eats.
What does the hammerhead shark eat?
The hammerhead shark is a skilled predator that has virtually no equal. The victim chosen by her has practically no chance of salvation. There are even cases of attacks on humans. However, a person is in danger if he himself provokes a predator.
Shark teeth are relatively small, which makes it impossible to hunt large marine life. The food base of hammerhead fish is very diverse. Small marine invertebrates make up the majority of the diet.
- squid ;
- sharks, which are inferior in strength and size: dark-finned, gray, gray mustelids;
- stingrays (they are a favorite delicacy);
- fur seals;
- toad fish, hedgehog fish, etc.
In nature, there have been cases of cannibalism, when hammerhead sharks ate their smaller relatives. Predators hunt mainly at night. They are distinguished by agility, agility, and high speed of movement. Thanks to lightning-fast reactions, some victims do not even have time to realize that they are caught by predators. Having caught its prey, the shark either stuns it with a powerful head blow, or presses it to the bottom and eats it.
Sharks tend to eat many poisonous fish and marine life. However, the shark's body has learned to develop immunity and form resistance to various poisons.
Character and lifestyle features
Hammerhead sharks are incredibly agile and fast marine creatures, despite their impressive size. They feel great both in the open ocean at great depths and in shallow water. During the day they mostly rest. Females prefer to spend time in each other's company near coral reefs or sea cliffs. They go hunting on the offensive.
Interesting fact: Female hammerhead sharks like to gather in groups in underwater rocks. Most often this happens during the day, by night they blur, so that the next day they can get together again and spend it together.
never confuse parts of the world. It has been scientifically proven that in the process of communicating with each other, sharks use about a dozen different signals. Approximately half of them are designed to warn of danger. The meaning of the rest is still unknown.
It is known that predators feel great at almost any depth. Most often they gather in flocks at a depth of 20-25 meters, they can gather in shallow water or sink almost to the bottom of the ocean, diving to a depth of more than 360 meters. There are cases when this species of predators was found in fresh waters.
With the onset of the cold season, migrations of these predators are observed. At this time of the year, the bulk of predators are concentrated near the equator. With the return of summer, they again migrate to cooler waters rich in food. During the migration period, young individuals accumulate in huge flocks, the number of which reaches several thousand.
They are considered virtuoso hunters, often attack the inhabitants of the deep sea, significantly exceeding them in size and strength.
Social structure and reproduction
The hammerhead shark belongs to live-bearing fish. They reach sexual maturity when they reach a certain weight and body length. Females predominate in terms of body weight. Mating does not occur at depth; during this period, sharks are as close as possible to the surface of the deep sea. In the process of mating, often males sink their teeth into their partners.
Each adult female bears offspring once every two years. The period of gestation of the embryo lasts 10-11 months. The period of childbirth in the northern hemisphere falls on the last days of spring. Sharks, whose habitat is on the Australian coast, have to give birth at the end of winter.
Interesting fact: Hammerhead shark pups have a hammer parallel to the body, which eliminates the risk of injury to females at the moment childbirth.
During the period of approaching childbirth, the female approaches the coast, lives in small bays, where there is a lot of food. The cubs born into the world immediately become in a natural position and follow their parents. At one time, from 10 to 40 cubs are born to one female. The number of small predators directly depends on the size and body weight of the mother.
Juveniles are about half a meter long and are excellent, very fast swimmers. For the first few months, newborn sharks try to stay close to their mother, as during this period they are easy prey for other predators. During the period of being near their mother, they receive protection and master the intricacies of hunting. After the born cubs have grown strong enough and gained experience, they are separated from the mother and lead an isolated lifestyle.
Natural enemies of hammerhead sharks
The hammerhead shark is one of the most powerful and dangerous predators. Due to their body size, power and agility, they have practically no enemies in their natural habitat. The exception is humans and parasites that parasitize in the body of a shark, practically eating it from the inside. If the number of parasites is large, they can lead to the death of even such a giant as the hammerhead shark.
Predators have attacked humans more than once. In a study of predators at the Hawaiian Research Institute, it was proved that the shark does not consider humans as prey and potential prey. However, it is near the Hawaiian Islands that the most frequent cases of attacks on humans are recorded. This happens especially often during the period when females wash ashore before giving birth. At this moment they are especially dangerous, aggressive and unpredictable.
Divers, scuba divers, and hikers are often the victims of aggressive, pregnant females. Divers and explorers are also often targeted by the sudden movements and unpredictability of predators.
Hammerhead sharks are often killed by humans due to their high cost. On the basis of shark oil, a large number of medicines are made, as well as ointments, creams and decorative cosmetics. High-end restaurants serve dishes based on shark meat. Shark fin soup is considered a special delicacy.
Population and species status
To date, the number of hammerhead sharks is not threatened. Of the nine subspecies that exist, the bighead hammerhead, which is being culled in particularly large numbers, has been designated “Vulnerable” by the International Conservation Union. In this regard, this subspecies is ranked among the representatives of flora and fauna, which are in a special position. In this regard, in the regions where this subspecies lives, the volume of production and fishing is regulated by the government.
In Hawaii, it is considered that the hammerhead shark is a divine creation. It is in them that the souls of the dead inhabitants move. In this regard, the local population believes that meeting hammerhead fish in the open sea is considered a great success and a symbol of luck. In this region, the bloodthirsty predator enjoys a special position and reverence.
The hammerhead shark is an amazing and very peculiar representative of the marine flora and fauna. She is well versed in the terrain and is considered an unsurpassed hunter. Lightning-fast reactions and great dexterity, dexterity practically excludes the presence of enemies in natural conditions.