Animal Species:Scalloped Hammerhead, Sphyrna lewini (Griffin & Smith, 1834)

The Scalloped Hammerhead sometimes forms large migratory schools, dispersing at night to feed in deeper waters. The adult females are believed to live in deep water and only move onto the continental shelf to mate and when giving birth. After a period of 9-10 months they give birth to an average litter of 25.

Standard Common Name

Scalloped Hammerhead

Alternative Name/s

Kidney-headed Shark.

Identification

The Scalloped Hammerhead has an undulating margin to the front of the head with an indentation medially. It has a low second dorsal fin and a relatively straight posterior pelvic fin margin.

The species is brownish-grey to olive or bronze above and pale below. Adults have dusky pectoral fin tips, but no other markings. Juveniles have dark pectoral, lower caudal and second dorsal fin tips.

Size range

The Scalloped Hammerhead grows to 4.2 m in length.

Distribution

Scalloped Hammerheads occur in most tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide.

In Australia it is known from north-western Western Australia, around the tropical north and south to the central coast of New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Sphyrna lewini

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Scalloped Hammerhead specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

The species occurs in coastal and offshore waters. It is not an oceanic species.

Feeding and Diet

Their diet consistes mostly of teleost fishes and cephalopods.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Scalloped Hammerhead sometimes forms large migratory schools, dispersing at night to feed in deeper waters.

Sharks can detect weak electrical fields using electrical sense organs called the ampullae of Lorenzini. These are connected to the exterior via pores in the shark's snout. This ability allows some species to detect the electrical cues that emanate from prey animals and even the weak electrical currents flowing through the earth's magnetic fields. Some species can detect voltages as low one millionth of a volt.

Mating and reproduction

The adult females are believed to live in deep water and only move onto the continental shelf to mate and when giving birth. After a period of 9-10 months they give birth to an average litter of 25.

Danger to humans and first aid

It is considered a potentially dangerous species that has occasionally displayed its threat posture to scuba divers who have approached too closely (Thomson et al, 1979).

Classification

Species:
lewini
Genus:
Sphyrna
Family:
Sphyrnidae
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  3. Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4, Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 2 - Carcharhiniformes. iii-x, 251-655.
  4. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  5. Klimley, A.P. 1993. Highly directional swimming by scalloped hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna lewini,and subsurface irradiance, temperature, bathymetry and geomagnetic field. Marine Biology. 117: 1-22.
  6. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  7. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
  8. Stevens, J.D. 1987. Sharks. Golden Press. Pp.240.
  9. Thompson, D.A., Findley, L.T. & A.N. Kerstitch. 1979. Reef Fishes of the Sea of Cortez. John Wiley & Sons. Pp. 302.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Scalloped Hammerhead, Sphyrna lewini, pelagic, Sphyrnidae, Kidney-headed Shark, litter of 25, large migratory schools, deep water, continental shelf, undulating margin, indentation medially, long and straight, brownish-grey, olive, brown, pale underside, > 2m, tropical water, temperate, shark,