Great Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
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Saturday November 8, 2014

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Great Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)

A Great Hammerhead shark can give birth to live young anywhere from 6-42 pups! If they survive into adulthood, they can live up to 44 years, on occasion even longer.

The Great Hammerhead shark is a solitary, migratory shark, travelling distances more than 756 miles (1200km). They have a faster growth rate than other shark species, and can reach maturity between 5-9 years old. They tend to feed on stingrays, octopus, squid, crustaceans and other sharks, their favourite being stingrays, as many saw in videos circulating out of Ambergria Caye. Fun fact, these sharks have been found with stingray, and catfish barbs sticking out their mouths. This has led scientists to believe they are immune to the venom!

Today the CITES requirements for monitoring and regulation of international trade in listed species of sharks and rays come into effect. Scalloped and Great Hammerheads are the Convention's most pertinent species captured in Belize. This means that Belize and our neighboring countries now need to track all hammerhead catches and trade (meat and fins) and require certificates and permits to ensure a sustainable and legal capture of these species. Belize had previously signed an agreement forbidding the commercial fishing of hammerheads capture for sale of hammerhead products). But since hammerheads are still caught and have been traded across borders, we must now prove that any trade is not conducted to the detriment of hammerhead populations. Note that there are no known sustainable fisheries globally for these hammerhead species and all research points to their numbers in severe decline and currently at very low levels.

Hammerhead up close and personal, from a morning dive at Sandypoint.

Photograph by Brian Skerry

Check out this incredible sighting of a hammerhead shark off Ambergris! They love to snack on eagles rays, and true to this nature an Eagle ray was spotted after his departure with a shark mouth-shaped chunk missing from him. Poor ray, but happy shark.

Chuck & Robbie's Scuba Diving & Instruction: We got the wonderful privilege to see this hammerhead this afternoon close to the doge shop ( in front of loosers ) unfortunately the spotted eagle ray was not that lucky.

Rachel Graham: This critically endangered and rarely seen great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) went after its favorite food, an eagle ray. It just happened to catch it near a dock. Hammers are not interested in people and tend to be very shy when anyone is on the water. Was anyone in the water at the time? Worth noting that in the Bahamas they have generated huge sums from encounter tourism (USD114 million annually). So we need to think about how we keep these iconic rare animals about for the health of our ecosystems and for building our shark encounter tourism to be first class and lucrative for many coastal communities and businesses in Belize. As a final note, the gillnet ban is one of the best things to have happened to help reverse the decline of a range of marine species but notably the hammerheads, whose populations are scraping bottom worldwide, including Belize.

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