Hammerhead sharks are one of the most well-known sharks in the world, almost entirely because of their unique head shape.
With a head shaped like a flattened hammer, this species is certainly a unique shark.
It’s no secret that all sharks come with misconceptions.
When you hear the word “shark”, you automatically think of a man-eating monster, but that’s not always the case. So, what about hammerhead sharks? Are hammerhead sharks dangerous?
If you’re wondering whether hammerhead sharks are dangerous to humans as well as their prey, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s everything you need to know about how dangerous hammerhead sharks are!
So, Are Hammerhead Sharks Dangerous To Humans?
Unfortunately, it’s not actually easy to say whether hammerhead sharks are dangerous to humans or not.
Technically speaking, most shark species can be considered dangerous to humans if they are large and territorial enough.
Hammerhead sharks are surprisingly large and fairly aggressive sharks, so they technically have the strength to attack and cause some damage to humans.
After all, it’s not easy to overpower a 6-meter-long shark with 17 rows of razor sharp teeth.
In terms of their danger levels to humans, we’ve got to look into the behavior of a hammerhead shark to understand its threat.
Behavior And Temperament
Hammerhead sharks are notoriously aggressive hunters.
They feast on a diet of squid, fish, eels, and even rays, meaning they need a certain amount of power, speed, resilience, and aggression to kill their prey.
They’re not ambush hunters – instead, they will swim along the bottom of the ocean, stalking their prey beneath them.
These sharks will use their unique head shape and excellent eyesight to find their prey’s weak spot before killing them.
What makes hammerhead sharks particularly threatening is that they hunt in large schools, consisting of up to 20 sharks at a time.
When they patrol the seas in search of food, it’s uncommon for fish, crustaceans, octopuses, and stingrays to escape their wrath (unless they find suitable cover).
When it comes to human interaction, however, hammerhead sharks don’t typically acknowledge humans.
It’s common for divers to swim alongside hammerhead sharks, or at the very least acknowledge their schools and traveling patterns from a safe distance.
However, it’s not wise to swim amongst hammerhead sharks when they are hunting for food.
These are ferocious, highly aggressive, and territorial sharks that will do anything to reach their food.
So, if they’re feeling threatened by another species that could scare off their prey, they might lash out.
How Many Humans Have Hammerhead Sharks Attacked?
If we look at the number of people attacked or killed by hammerhead sharks, it would be safe to say that hammerheads aren’t actually too dangerous to humans.
There actually haven’t been any recorded human deaths as a result of hammerhead sharks, but there are 17 records of attacks.
When you look at these statistics, it’s clear that hammerheads aren’t typically aggressive to humans. However, it’s important to remember that this is likely due to common sense.
Humans aren’t likely to swim amongst hammerhead sharks while they’re hunting, or at least without a guide who understands the behavior patterns of the sharks.
So, just because few humans have been harmed and nobody has been killed by a hammerhead shark, doesn’t mean they’re a particularly friendly species.
It’s safe to assume that hammerhead sharks are merely tolerant of human interactions, but they’d rather be left alone.
Can Hammerhead Sharks Attack People?
Just because it’s not common for hammerheads to attack people doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
However, what people don’t often think about is how the shape of the hammerhead’s head and mouth will impact the way it attacks prey and humans.
Due to the location of the eyes on either side of the flattened lateral head, hammerhead sharks actually have a 360-degree view of the world around them.
Not only does this offer them perfect peripheral vision not commonly found in the animal kingdom, but their eyesight is also brilliant – including fantastic depth perception and stereo vision.
So, to put it simply, if you were a fish in the surroundings of a hammerhead shark (or a school of hammerheads), they would see every single movement you make.
These sharks will swim close to the sea floor when hunting due to the location of their mouths.
As their mouths are located at the bottom of their heads, they can only really attack their prey from a certain angle.
This differs from sharks with large mouths and jaws, like the great white shark, wherein they can attack from virtually any angle.
So, if you were to swim directly above a hammerhead shark, it would be safe to assume that they can’t bite you from that angle.
However, don’t underestimate their quick speed. They might also see your figure and shadow as a threat from above, so nothing will stop them from attacking if they feel threatened.
What Do Hammerhead Sharks Eat?
As mentioned earlier, hammerhead sharks are consummate predators that will feast on a variety of prey, including fish of most sizes, crustaceans, squid, octopus, rays (mostly stingrays), and even other sharks.
While they typically eat smaller food when hunting alone, they will use their pack skills to take down larger fish and sharks.
Contrary to popular belief about sharks, hammerhead sharks don’t hunt humans for food.
Whether it’s because humans don’t typically swim around these sharks while they’re hunting or if humans are too big to kill, hammerheads just aren’t interested in eating people.
However, this doesn’t mean they won’t attack humans when they feel threatened.
Can I Swim With Hammerhead Sharks?
Anyone can swim with hammerhead sharks if you take part in a specific expedition from a dive school.
These are led by experienced divers who understand the behavior of the sharks, ensuring for the diver’s safety.
Just make sure to only take part in these expeditions and not to swim with hammerheads alone.
So, there you have it! While hammerhead sharks aren’t typically dangerous to humans, that doesn’t mean they’re not capable of attacking humans when they feel threatened or territorial.