American Oceans

Biggest Hammerhead Shark Ever Recorded

The hammerhead shark is one of the most fascinating creatures in the ocean. Known for their unique head shape, these sharks are found in warm waters around the world.

a giant hammerhead shark swimming next to a diver

While there are many different species of hammerhead sharks, the largest ever caught was a great hammerhead.

Check out the guide below to learn all about the largest hammerhead ever recorded!

History of the Largest Hammerhead Shark Ever

Great Hammerhead Shark species in tropical waters

In 2006, a world record-breaking hammerhead shark was caught off the coast of Boca Grande, Florida.

The massive shark weighed in at 1,280 pounds and measured 14 feet in length. The catch was made by a group of fishermen who used a 22-pound bonito as bait. The hammerhead shark put up a fierce fight, taking over an hour to reel in.

The Golfer and the Shark

In 2011, Australian golfer Greg Norman had a close encounter with a hammerhead shark while diving off the coast of the Bahamas.

The shark, estimated to be around 14 feet in length, swam within a few feet of Norman before swimming away. The incident was captured on video by a drone and later aired on National Geographic.

The Cliff Dive

In 2015, an Australian kid made headlines when he jumped off a cliff and landed on a hammerhead shark. The shark was estimated to be around 8 feet in length and was swimming near the base of the cliff.

The kid suffered minor injuries from the impact but was able to swim away unharmed. The incident sparked controversy and raised questions about the safety of cliff diving.

Characteristics of Hammerhead Sharks

Hammerhead Shark

Hammerhead sharks are a group of fish that belong to the family Sphyrnidae. There are several species of hammerhead sharks, including the great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, bonnethead, and scalloped bonnethead.

These sharks are known for their unique and distinctive shape, which includes a cephalofoil, or flattened head, that resembles a hammer.

The size and weight of hammerhead sharks can vary depending on the species. The great hammerhead is the largest of the hammerhead species and can grow up to 20 feet in length and weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

The winghead shark is the smallest of the hammerhead species and typically grows to be around 3-4 feet in length.

Distinctive Shape

The distinctive shape of hammerhead sharks is due to their cephalofoil, which is used for swimming and hunting.

The cephalofoil helps to increase the shark’s agility in the water and allows it to make sharp turns.

This unique shape also allows hammerhead sharks to have a wider range of vision, making it easier for them to spot prey.

Teeth and Fins

Hammerhead sharks have a unique set of teeth that are designed for catching and eating prey. Their teeth are triangular and serrated, which helps them to grip onto their prey and tear off chunks of flesh.

Hammerhead sharks also have a large dorsal fin that helps them to maintain their balance in the water.


The skin of hammerhead sharks is covered in dermal denticles, which are small tooth-like structures that help to protect the shark from predators and parasites. These structures also help to reduce drag in the water, making it easier for the shark to swim.

Habitat and Behavior

a smooth hammerhead shark swimming beneath the surface of the water

Hammerhead sharks are found in warm waters all around the world, including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

They are typically found in tropical and temperate waters, but some species can also be found in colder waters.

The largest hammerhead species, the great hammerhead, is most commonly found in the western Atlantic, particularly off the coast of Florida.

Social Behavior

Hammerhead sharks are generally solitary creatures, but they have been known to form large schools during migration.

They are also known to exhibit complex social behaviors, such as courtship rituals and aggressive displays towards other males during mating season.

Reproductive Habits

Hammerhead sharks are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. Female hammerheads are known to have long gestation periods and can carry their young for up to 10 months.

During mating season, male hammerheads will bite onto the female’s pectoral fin and use their teeth to hold onto her while mating.

Hammerhead sharks are also known for their unique reproductive strategy called intrauterine cannibalism. In some species, the largest and strongest embryos will consume their smaller siblings while still inside the mother’s womb.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Hammerhead Shark swimming under the waters

Hammerhead sharks are apex predators that have a varied diet, feeding on a wide range of prey including squid, stingrays, crustaceans, and larger sharks.

They are known for their unique head shape, which gives them an advantage when hunting.

The hammer-like shape of their head, known as a cephalofoil, allows them to detect prey more easily and to maneuver quickly in the water.

Primary Prey

Hammerhead sharks are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything they can catch. Their primary prey varies depending on their location and maturity.

Juvenile hammerhead sharks tend to feed on smaller fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods, while adult hammerheads prefer larger prey such as stingrays and other sharks.

Feeding Techniques

Hammerhead sharks use a variety of feeding techniques to catch their prey. They have been known to use their cephalofoil to pin down stingrays and other flatfish, making it easier to swallow them whole.

They also use their sense of smell to locate prey, and will often follow scent trails to find food.

One of the most interesting feeding behaviors of hammerhead sharks is their ability to hunt in groups. They have been observed working together to corral schools of fish, making it easier for them to catch their prey.

This cooperative hunting behavior is rare among sharks and is thought to be an adaptation to their varied diet.

The heaviest hammerhead shark ever caught was a 1,280-pound female caught off the coast of the Bahamas in 2006. The shark was caught by an angler using a combination of bait and an anchor to exhaust the shark before bringing it to the surface.

This method of fishing, known as “chumming,” is controversial and can lead to bycatch of other species.

Despite their status as apex predators, hammerhead sharks are still vulnerable to extinction due to overfishing and habitat loss.

Many species of hammerhead sharks give birth to live young, which are also vulnerable to being caught as bycatch.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect these magnificent creatures and ensure their survival for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the largest recorded size of a hammerhead shark?

The largest recorded hammerhead shark was a female great hammerhead measuring 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length. This shark was caught off the coast of Florida in 2006.

What is the average size of a hammerhead shark?

The average size of a hammerhead shark varies depending on the species. The smallest species, the bonnethead shark, typically grows to be about 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) in length, while the largest species, the great hammerhead, can grow up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length.

Are hammerhead sharks known to attack humans?

While hammerhead sharks have been known to attack humans, such incidents are rare. Hammerhead sharks are generally not considered to be a threat to humans, and attacks are usually the result of mistaken identity or provoked behavior.

What is the diet of a hammerhead shark?

Hammerhead sharks are carnivorous and primarily feed on a variety of prey including fish, squid, octopus, and crustaceans.

The shape of their head allows them to have better vision and sense of smell, which helps them locate their prey.

Which species of hammerhead shark is the largest?

The great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) is the largest species of hammerhead shark, and can grow up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length.

Other species of hammerhead sharks, such as the scalloped hammerhead and the smooth hammerhead, are smaller in size.

Are hammerhead sharks considered endangered?

Several species of hammerhead sharks are considered endangered due to overfishing and habitat loss.

The great hammerhead shark, in particular, is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

1 comment

  • Hector, the Hammerhead is 27 + feet long and he ain’t going to just let you measure him.