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Great Hammerhead Shark

Great Hammerhead Shark

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Published by draculavanhelsing
fact sheet
fact sheet

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Jun 07, 2012
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06/26/2013

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FACTSHEET
Great Hammerhead Shark
Sphyrna mokarran 
Fisheries Ecosystems Unit, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute
Great Hammerhead Shark. Photo: Frederic Buyle 
Introduction
The Great Hammerhead Shark is the largestspecies of hammerhead in the world. The GreatHammerhead has a circumglobal distributionbetween the latitudes of 40°N and 35°S. They area nomadic, generally solitary and highly migratoryspecies that ranges in tropical and warm temperateseas. They are found throughout the seas aroundnorthern Australia and have been recordedoccurring as far south as Sydney (34°S).Globally hammerhead sharks have been targetedfor their meat and valuable fins and have sufferedserious declines in abundance in many geographicregions around the world.The Great Hammerhead Shark is listed as a
vulnerable species
in NSW. Heavy penalties existfor harming, possessing, buying or selling GreatHammerhead Sharks, or for harming their habitat(see ‘Legal implications’).
Description
 Hammerhead sharks can be easily recognized bytheir unique hammer-shaped head; called a‘cephalofoil’. The exact purpose of the cephalofoilis debated with various theories proposed that itprovides hydrodynamic lift, improves vision andmanoeuvrability, increases the area and spatialarrangement of sensory organs and can be usedfor prey manipulation.
May 2012
 
Primefact 1210 first editionAquaculture, Conservation and Marine Parks
 
 The Great Hammerhead has indentations at thecentre and either end of the frontal edge of thehead. The eyes are positioned at either end of thehammer and the mouth is situated on theunderside.The distinctive head is equipped with highlyspecialized sensory organs (called ampullae ofLorenzini) which assist in sensing weak electricalemissions omitted by their prey.
Adult and juvenile Great Hammerheads – note the tall sickle shaped dorsal fin, and rectangular head.Photo: Alastair Harry, Fishing & Fisheries Research Centre, James Cook University 
 
The Great Hammerhead is approximately 50 - 70cm at birth and attains a maximum length of 6 malthough they are more typically recorded ataround 4.5 m in Australian waters.Globally there are nine species of hammerheadsharks, with three species occurring in NSWwaters; the Smooth, the Scalloped and the GreatHammerhead Sharks.While hammerhead sharks are immediatelyrecognisable, it can be difficult to distinguishbetween species. The Great Hammerhead can beidentified from other hammerheads by its relativelystraight head profile (as opposed to the stronglyarched profiles of Smooth and ScallopedHammerheads) and the slight indentations on thefront margin of its rectangular head (as opposed tothe distinctive scalloped indentation found in thecentre of the front margin of the ScallopedHammerhead and the more pronounced notchesfound on the outer edges of the front margin inScalloped and Smooth Hammerheads).The Great Hammerhead has a slender taperedbody, which is bronze-pale brown on top, fading topale beneath but attains a much larger size (up to6 m) than either the Smooth or Scallopedhammerheads (approx 3.5 m maximum). TheGreat Hammerhead possesses a tall, distinct andstrongly falcate (sickle-shaped) first dorsal fin, witha relatively tall second dorsal fin, and the rearmargin of the pelvic fin is strongly concave.The keen eye will also notice that the height of thesecond dorsal fin of Great Hammerheads is equalto, or greater than the height of their anal fin, whilethe reverse situation applies in Smooth andScalloped Hammerheads.The species can also be differentiated by thepresence of triangular and highly serrated teethand by the absence of fin markings (Smooth andScalloped Hammerheads have weakly serrated orsmooth teeth and dusky colouring beneath the tipsof their pectoral fins).
Habitat and ecology
The Great Hammerhead is a coastal-pelagic andsemi-oceanic species, occurring along coastlines,continental shelves and adjacent drop-offs to about80 m depth.In NSW waters Great Hammerheads are mostlikely to occur north of Sydney and mainly duringthe warmer months.The species is typically nomadic in its movementscompared to other hammerheads, and migrates tocooler waters in the summer months.The diet of the Great Hammerhead Shark consistsof fish, other sharks, rays, crustaceans, andcephalopods (squid, octopus and cuttlefish). Thepresence of many demersal species in stomachcontents suggests Great Hammerheads arebottom feeders.In temperate waters females reach sexual maturityat approximately 2.3 m and 8 - 9 years of age. TheGreat Hammerhead gives birth to 65 cm live youngand produce litters of 6 - 33 pups after a gestationperiod of 11 months. Pups are born in summerbetween December and January. Females onlyreproduce every second year, increasing thespecies vulnerability to population decline.Females can live to 39 years and males over 31years old have been recorded.
Great Hammerheads are usually solitary. Other species of hammerheads in NSW can form schools.Photo: Alastair Harry, Fishing & Fisheries Research Centre, James Cook University 
p 2 Great Hammerhead Shark
Sphyrna mokarran 
 
 
 
Comparison of Scalloped and Great Hammerhead Sharks.Photos and comparison by Alastair Harry, Fishing & Fisheries Research Centre, James Cook University 
Why is the Great Hammerhead Sharkthreatened?threatened?
Commercial, recreational and shark meshingbather protection fisheries are the primarythreat to the Great Hammerhead.
Commercial, recreational and shark meshingbather protection fisheries are the primarythreat to the Great Hammerhead.
Great Hammerheads are generally regardedas being a solitary animal, and are unlikely tobe abundant wherever they occur.
Great Hammerheads are generally regardedas being a solitary animal, and are unlikely tobe abundant wherever they occur.
Quantifying historical trends in mortality ofGreat Hammerheads across commercial,recreational and bather protection fisheries isdifficult as most hammerhead landings havenot been identified to species level due todifficulties with species identification.
Quantifying historical trends in mortality ofGreat Hammerheads across commercial,recreational and bather protection fisheries isdifficult as most hammerhead landings havenot been identified to species level due todifficulties with species identification.
Great Hammerheads have low fecundity as aresult of relatively slow growth rates, late onsetof sexual maturity and a biennial reproductivecycle; reducing the species recovery potential.
Great Hammerheads have low fecundity as aresult of relatively slow growth rates, late onsetof sexual maturity and a biennial reproductivecycle; reducing the species recovery potential.
As a migratory species, Great Hammerheadsare subject to fishing pressure in a range of jurisdictions and are targeted for their large,high value fins in some jurisdictions.
As a migratory species, Great Hammerheadsare subject to fishing pressure in a range of jurisdictions and are targeted for their large,high value fins in some jurisdictions.
Conservation and recovery actionsConservation and recovery actions
Conduct research into the distribution, biologyand ecology of the species.
 
Conduct research into the distribution, biologyand ecology of the species.
 
Manage fishing and the NSW Shark Meshing(Bather Protection) Program activities tomitigate impacts on the species.
Manage fishing and the NSW Shark Meshing(Bather Protection) Program activities tomitigate impacts on the species.
Develop cooperative management andresearch partnerships with other jurisdictions toensure sustainable management of GreatHammerheads across jurisdictions.
 
Develop cooperative management andresearch partnerships with other jurisdictions toensure sustainable management of GreatHammerheads across jurisdictions.
 
Develop educational and advisory materials toimprove species identification of GreatHammerheads and to raise communityawareness of their threatened status.
Develop educational and advisory materials toimprove species identification of GreatHammerheads and to raise communityawareness of their threatened status.
Implement the Commercial FisheriesThreatened and Protected Species InteractionReporting arrangements.
 
Implement the Commercial FisheriesThreatened and Protected Species InteractionReporting arrangements.
 
Develop advisory materials on the best ways torelease any incidentally caught GreatHammerheads with least possible harm.
Develop advisory materials on the best ways torelease any incidentally caught GreatHammerheads with least possible harm.
 
Report any sightings of the species on theNSW DPI 24 hour automated message-taking service by calling (02) 4916 3877.
 
Report any sightings of the species on theNSW DPI 24 hour automated message-taking service by calling (02) 4916 3877.
Great Hammerhead Shark
Sphyrna mokarran 
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