The Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna zygaena, has one of the strangest heads found among fishes. Its skull is flattened into two long, narrow, squared-off projections, at the extreme ends of which are located the eyes and nostrils. No one has been able to explain the utility of this bizarre arrangement except that the placing of the paired sense organs further apart may allow more accurate location of prey or enemies – much in the way that a wider base between two observation points permits more accurate range-finding for artillery.
The food of hammerhead sharks consists mostly of various fishes, including its own kind, other sharks, skates, and sting rays. There are several authenticated accounts of hammerheads attacking human bathers. Since they reach a length of thirteen feet, they are capable of doing considerable harm. In the shark fisheries of the West Indies and Florida, hammerheads are used both for leather and liver oil. As many as thirty-seven embryos have been found in a single female. The young are about twenty inches long, and their “hammers” are folded back alongside the body to make birth easier.
The hammerhead shark, with one of the oddest heads in the finny kingdom, is truly a weird-looking creature; the eyes and nostrils are in the two long, squared-off projections of the skull. Hammerheads grow to thirteen feet in length, and occasionally attack swimmers. Two sharks are shown here with their prey, a cownose ray.
In the Atlantic, there are five species of hammerheads, but exactly how many exist in the rest of the oceans is not known.
The Little Skate, Raja erinacea, is the best known of the half-dozen species of skates that are found off the northeastern coast of the United States. Like practically all skates, it lives mostly on the bottom and the greater part of its food consists of bottom-inhabiting animals such as crabs, shrimps, worms, sea squirts, bivalves, squid, and small fishes. It has numerous rows of small, rounded teeth set in a pattern resembling a tile pavement.