Hammerhead sharks are fascinating creatures, with a head shaped like a hammer, they use this unique feature to pin down prey such as Stingrays and Octopus.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the hammerhead shark, and more specifically answer a question we find many of our readers asking: Are hammerhead sharks dangerous?
In short, they are typically not dangerous for humans, but as with all wild animals, caution should be taken, especially if encountered in the wild.
Let’s take a closer look…
Are Hammerhead Sharks Actually Dangerous?
There are a total of nine different species of the hammerhead shark, with most being small but some such as the Great Hammerhead shark being larger and more of a threat to humans.
Great hammerheads are the largest of all the species of hammerhead sharks, reaching a maximum of 20 feet and a weight of 991 pounds.
They are easy distinguishable from other species of hammerhead due to their size, as well as their indentation in the middle of their hammer-shaped head.
As these sharks are the largest, they are typically more inquisitive and curious when it comes to humans.
Although hammerheads will generally ignore divers and humans, sometimes they may swim up close to scope you out.
The good news is that the chances of being bitten or attacked by a hammerhead is incredibly slim, with only 16 fatal hammerhead attacks globally.
Hammerheads are usually not dangerous to humans, so there is no need to stress and worry if you encounter one in the wild.
Unlike the Great White or Bull Shark, this is probably one of the safest sharks to be around when in the ocean.
You’ve got more chance of being struck by lightning or killed by a goat than a hammerhead shark, so try not to worry.
Why Are Hammerhead Sharks Dangerous?
Hammerhead sharks actually are not that dangerous for humans. They will usually flee the scene rather than attack or bite.
That said, there are some instances where hammerhead sharks can become dangerous.
Sharks are wild animals, and sometimes they can be unpredictable and exhibit behavior that we do not expect.
Hammerhead sharks are known to be defensive animals, so if you get too close or they feel threatened by you, a nasty bite could be on its way.
Bites from hammerheads can be fatal, often they don’t intend to kill but their teeth are so sharp and the power behind them is enough to make humans bleed out if they hit an artery.
Hammerhead sharks may also become dangerous if there is food around and they feel like they are competing with you.
Providing you treat hammerhead sharks with respect, there really shouldn’t be any danger and you should be able to have a wonderful experience with them.
Keep your distance, show respect and you’ll be absolutely fine around hammerhead sharks in the wild.
Are Hammerhead Sharks Aggressive?
Hammerhead sharks are aggressive hunters in the wild. They use their large hammer-shaped head to pin down their prey before striking.
This large head can also be used as a sort of rudder, allowing them to be incredibly agile in the water and quickly move direction at any point.
Hammerhead sharks have some of the best eyesight in the natural world, and in combination with their incredible agility, this makes for one incredible predator.
They also have exceptional instincts that they use to locate Stingrays that are hiding in the sand at the bottom of the ocean.
Although hammerhead sharks are aggressive when hunting prey, they don’t show aggression towards humans.
This is likely because they are smart, and understand that we are off the menu and a terrible meal that is a tussle to secure.
Why wrestle with a human when you can simply swipe up an easy Octopus or Ray?
Some hammerheads can be more aggressive than others. The larger hammerheads will typically be more boisterous and confident when it comes to approaching humans.
This is why it’s important to always be careful when around hammerhead sharks, especially when in the wild and in their environment.
No touching, no sudden movements, and always keep your distance – these are some good rules to follow when it comes to hammerhead sharks.
Is It Safe To Dive With Hammerhead Sharks?
Typically diving with hammerheads is safe. This is because they are not interested in humans and usually ignore us completely whilst in the water.
Divers should always treat wild animals with respect, and the same goes for a hammerhead. As mentioned earlier, if they feel threatened then an attack is much more likely.
As long as whilst diving you are not trying to touch or get too close for comfort to a hammerhead shark, then you’ll likely have an amazing experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Hammerheads are amazing creatures, and it’s breathtaking to see them in the wild in their natural habitats.
I’ve been lucky enough to encounter a Great Hammerhead in the wild and although I was nervous at first, I was quickly calmed by how little the shark cared about me.
Are Hammerhead Sharks Dangerous To Humans?
Hammerhead sharks are not dangerous to humans, as evident by the very small amount of human deaths caused by them.
These sharks are intelligent, and they understand that we are not food for them. The chances of being bitter by a hammerhead are incredibly slim, and usually, this only happens if they feel threatened.
When a hammerhead strikes, it’s typically a warning to say back off. However, as they are so powerful, a small nip to them is enough to cause serious damage to us.
Providing you’re not doing anything that can cause the hammerhead stress or concern, then you should be totally safe in the water with this shark.
The hammerhead sharks’ eyesight is simply amazing, they can see almost everything around them and are aware at all times.
This is why they can be startled so easily, and will often flee to get away from humans as soon as they detect something they don’t like.
Attacks on humans are incredibly rare, and although these sharks can be big and scary, they are really harmless to humans.
Where Can Hammerhead Sharks Be Found?
Hammerhead sharks can be found in tropical waters all over the world. They swim far out in the ocean, as well as near coastlines.
These sharks are most commonly found in schools around the Islands of Darwin, as well as the Galapagos.
They are also present off the coast of Florida, Costa Rica, The Bahamas, Japan, Malaysia, and more.
They occur in many places across the world, providing the waters are tropical and warm, there will likely be hammerheads swimming around.
Hammerheads and even a Great Hammerhead have even been spotted by scientists off the coast of Cornwall in the UK.
So, are hammerhead sharks dangerous? Not particularly. Hammerheads are not aggressive towards humans and attacks are incredibly rare.
They are safe sharks to dive with and typically ignore humans whilst in the water, especially when in the safety of their school.
However, they are predators that are not to be taken lightly. If they feel threatened they may attack, and a bite from a hammerhead shark may be fatal.
The good news is that since the 1950s, hammerhead sharks have only been accountable for 16 fatal shark attacks.
They are much less aggressive than Mako, Great White, and Bull Sharks, making them relatively safe sharks to encounter in the wild.
They are perfectly adapted predators that use all of the many skills in their toolkit to hunt down prey.
If you do happen to come across a hammerhead in the ocean, keep your distance and ensure you are respectful.
You don’t want to startle the shark or come across as a threat in any way. Chances are you’ll be absolutely fine, and come away with an experience you will never forget.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post about hammerhead sharks, I hope I have answered your question of are hammerhead sharks dangerous?
Feel free to stick around and learn more about the many species of sharks and other marine wildlife.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.