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Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Sphyrna lewini

Distinguishing Characteristics

scalloped hammerhead
  • Head is flattened and extends to hammer-like lobes on each side
  • Indentation on front of head at its midpoint
  • Back is gray-brown to olive, fading to a white belly
  • Underside of pectoral fins tipped with black
  • Pelvic fin rear edge nearly straight


Hammerhead ID

Similar Species: Smooth hammerhead, S. zygaena (no indentation on front of head at midpoint); great hammerhead, S. mokarran (sides of head not pointed). Photo courtesy of NMFS-SEFSC.


Maximum size about 12 feet. A slowly maturing species, females reach maturity around 15 years (8 feet) and males reach maturity at 10 years of age (6 feet) and are estimated to live up to 30 years.


A circumglobal species found in coastal warm temperate and tropical seas. Commonly inhabits the continental and insular shelves of the Florida Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Known to enter estuarine habitats and nearshore areas, occasionally moving offshore in search of prey.  Large, seasonal aggregations have been observed in the western Gulf of Mexico near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.


Feeds on stingrays, angel sharks, smaller sharks, barracuda, mullet, jacks, and grunts. Also consumes a variety of marine invertebrates including crabs, squid, shrimp, and lobsters.


Gives birth to live young in shallow, nearshore areas after approximately 10-11 months of gestation. Broods range from 12-40 pups. Size at birth about 15-18 inches. Uses shallow bays and coastal waters as nursery areas.

Additional Information

Prohibited from recreational and commercial harvest in Florida state waters. In federal waters, scalloped hammerheads are taken in the commercial longline fishery mainly for their high-quality fins, hides, and meat. Considered to be dangerous and have been linked with many unprovoked bites on humans.

State Record: This species is not currently eligible for a state record. 

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles