Scalloped hammerhead shark


Scientific name

Sphyrna lewini




Up to 14 feet


At least 35 years

Did you know?

Several tagged female scalloped hammerhead sharks were found to undergo regular, short dives to depths down to 1,200 meters (4,000 feet). The behavior is hypothesized to be feeding at depth, with recovery and digestion in warmer, shallower waters.

About Scalloped hammerhead sharks

Scalloped hammerhead sharks can be distinguished from most other species of hammerheads by the shape of their heads, which have distinct indentations close to the eyes. The Greek word 

“sphyrna” means “hammer”, referring to the shape of this shark’s head, which is its most distinguishing characteristic.


The fins of scalloped hammerheads are also much shorter and more rounded than their close relatives, the great hammerheads, and can be useful features for identification when the shape of the head is not visible. Considered mostly a migratory near-shore species, females move into shallow waters to give birth but spend most of their adult lives offshore. Juveniles spend many years in shallow, coastal waters in habitats such as mangroves, estuaries. In some regions of the world, such as the Galapagos, scalloped hammerheads form huge schools. 


The diet of an adult scalloped hammerhead consists of neritic and epipelagic fish, cephalopods like squid, octopus, and cuttlefish, as well as lobsters, shrimps, crabs, and smaller species of sharks and rays.


Scalloped hammerhead sharks are found throughout the world in warm and tropical seas, including the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.

Fun facts

  • Scalloped hammerheads are thought to use the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate to specific locations, such as highly productive seamounts The scalloped hammerhead was the first marine species to be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Scalloped hammerhead shark photo gallery

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