Sustainable Fishing, Marine Biology & Conservation
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Wednesday
May092012

Great Hammerhead

*photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons (not used in the book)

(Sphyrna mokarran)

Reaching lengths of over 18 feet and weights of over 1200 pounds, this species is the largest of the hammerheads. Because of its size and habit of moving into shallow water to feed on large prey, this is the species that's earned a bad reputation for hammerheads in general. While the other species don't deserve such a reputation, the great hammerhead is guilty as charged. This is a big, aggressive species that southern anglers are accustom to having attack and steal huge tarpon and other gamefish right off their hook.

Because great hammerheads are most likely to move into shallow water that's adjacent to very deep water, they are more likely to do so in the south - and they seem to have a taste for tarpon. Find concentrations of big tarpon in or near deep channels and you've probably found a good place for great hammerheads. From the Mid-Atlantic north this species is not a common catch because they tend to stay far offshore and out of range of most recreational shark fishermen.

Identification of this species is relatively simple as they are the only species of hammerhead that has such a tall and curved dorsal fin. The head of this shark is also unique in that it is rather straight, not curved back slightly like the other species.