It’s got one of the (arguably) weirdest faces in the ocean, and the hammerhead shark is on nearly every diver’s bucket list.
What is a hammerhead shark?
There are currently nine known species of hammerhead sharks, the most famous ones being the great hammerhead (the biggest one) and the scalloped hammerhead. They can be up to 20 feet (6 m) long and are very easily recognizable by their flattened and extended head.
This peculiar head is known to be useful for hunting by extending their vision range, but scientists also think that it allows them to detect the electrical fields generated by their prey. They hunt at night, feeding on a large range of prey, including a variety of fish, rays, octopus and squid.
Hammerheads can live up to 30 years and reproduce only once a year, with the female giving birth to 15 to 40 pups that are left by themselves as soon as they are born to survive and grow.
Most species are considered threatened to endangered, mainly because of overfishing and shark finning. Since 2013, hammerhead species have been added to the CITES Appendix II, regulating their international trade.
Where can you find a hammerhead shark?
Divers can see them in warmer waters, along shore, and on continental shelves. Researchers think that they migrate up and down coasts in order to search for cooler waters, and they can move for thousands of miles.
Hammerhead sharks are one of the few shark species that you can see in schools. Up to several hundred individuals can move together during the day while they tend to split up at night to feed.
The “hammerhead triangle,” as it is known to divers, exists between the Galapagos, Cocos Islands and Malpelo Island. These are a few of the world’s best places to see big schools moving during specific periods of the year. Here you’ll see the sharks in the open ocean and near small islands, but conditions can be difficult, including strong currents and cooler water.
Other good hammerhead-spotting destinations include the Maldives, Eastern Indonesia, Southern Egypt, Bimini in the Bahamas, French Polynesia, and some areas in the Philippines.