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Hammerhead Sharks. Sphyrnidae species.
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Taxonomic name (of species shown): Sphyrna lewini
There are four species of hammerhead shark found in Australian waters,
ranging is size from 190-600 cm. The Smooth Hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena),which
at times forms large schools, is found only in southern waters, mostly
in shallow bays and reefs down to depths of 20 m. Its head has a smooth,
bow-like leading edge with no central indentation.
The similar Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini) is found in tropical
to warm temperate waters from the surface down to 300 m. The leading edge
of the wing-like head has a central indentation and is flanked by two
more scalloped indentations. The rather shy Scalloped Hammerhead is most
famous for forming large schools during the daytime. It feeds on fish
and squid at night in deep water.
The Winghead Shark (Eusphyra blochii) is the smallest hammerhead growing
to only 1 m long. It is easily distinguished by the long rectangular wings
on the head projecting well out from the body. It is found in the far
north in shallow and often silty water.
Unlike the other hammerhead species, which are considered harmless, the
Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) has the potential to be dangerous.
It has an indentation in the centre of the head and a very tall, curved
dorsal fin. It does not school like other species but single animals are
found around offshore tropical reefs.
The amazing hammer-shaped head of the hammerhead sharks provides for a
large sweep of its scent, sight and electro-sensory equipment. The winged
shape of the head also allows the shark to manoeuvre very quickly as it
twists and turns after speedy prey.