Over the holiday break we had the amazing opportunity to freediving with some Great Hammerhead sharks. Our underwater photographer friend Pete Zuccarini took us to the spot where Bimini Shark Lab and Bimini shark girl – Jillian conduct their shark research. In this beautiful spot with white sandy bottom, aqua blue water, they slowly and controlled feed the hammerheads. The sharks circle around and wait their turn to get a fish. This is also where the researchers tag, track and conduct their research on the sharks. It is amazing to see these large animals gently swim through the water and moving effortlessly. I thought it would be scary as we have encountered them free diving before, but it was really a relaxed environment, and the sharks didn’t seem to mind our presence. Shark research along with other marine research is so important for our future. Mother Earth is one hugh echo system and we are all part of it.
The great hammerhead is the largest hammerhead and they can get as long as 6.1 m (20 ft). It can be distinguished from other hammerheads by the shape of its “hammer” (called the “cephalofoil”), which is wide with an almost straight front margin.
The Great Hammerhead’s favorite meal are stingrays and it uses its “hammer” to “immobilize” the stingray. The females give live birth to pups and can have litters of up to 55 pups every two years!!
Although potentially dangerous, the great hammerhead rarely attacks humans. It sometimes behaves inquisitively toward divers and should be treated with respect. This shark is heavily fished for its large fins, which are extremely valuable on the Asian market as the main ingredient of shark fin soup. As a result, great hammerhead populations are declining substantially worldwide, and it has been assessed as endangered.