The Hammerhead shark, scientific name Sphyrna Zygaena, are named after the unusual and obvious structure of it’s head. Laterally extended and flat, the “hammer” section is called a cephalofoil. Proposed functions of the cephalofoil, are sensory reception, prey manipulation and manouvering. On the shark’s head, are electroreceptory sensory pores (Ampullae of Lorenzini). These pores lead to sensory tubes, which detect electricity given off by other living creatures. The eyes, mounted on the sides of the hammer shaped head, allows for 360 degrees on the vertical plane. This means that Hammerheads can see above and below it at all times. The Hammerheads are light grey with a greenish tint, with white undersides. The mouth is disproportionately small, compared to it’s size. In the day, they form schools of up to 100 individuals, and at night, they become solitary hunters.

Warm tropical waters are the preferred habitat of the Hammerheads, all over the world. During the summer, mass migration occurs, in the search of cooler waters. These sharks may be found in waters ranging from less than 1 meter (3.3 ft), up to a depth of 80 meters (260 ft) offshore.

The Hammerhead’s diet consists of octopus, squid, many species of fish, including other sharks, and stingrays, which are a particular favourite. The sharks are often found swimming at the bottom of the ocean, in order to stalk it’s prey. The shark’s unique hammer head, is used to pin the stingray down, and the prey is then eaten while it is weak and in shock. The largest of the Hammerhead group, the Great Hammerhead, is known to engage in cannibalism, eating other Hammerheads, including it’s own young. Another shark in this group, the Bonnethead, has been found to eat seagrass, along with the usual prey. The seagrass sometimes makes up for half of their stomach contents and they are able to partially digest it. This makes it the only shark that shows potentially omnivorous traits.

Hammerheads range from 0.9 to 6 meters (3.0 to 19.7 ft) in length. Weight ranges from 3 to 580 kg (6.6 to 1278.7 lb). These sharks only reproduce once a year, with the male biting the female violently until she agrees to mate with him. The male transfers sperm to the female with two organs called claspers. A yolk sac sustains the developing young. After depletion of yolk, the depleted yolk sac transforms into a yolk sac placenta, through which sustenance is delivered by the mother until birth. The pups are born live, 12 – 15 pups at a time; The Great Hammerhead gives birth to 20 – 40 pups at a time. Until the baby sharks are older and large enough to fend for themselves, they huddle together and search out warmer waters. The Bonnethead is the only shark in this group able to reproduce asexually in the case of no males being available. The lifespan of a Hammerhead is between 20 – 30 years.

The status of the Hammerhead group is spread over vulnerable or endangered. This is due to overfishing, and a huge demand for their fins as a delicacy. The fins are cut off when the shark is caught, the shark, often alive, is then thrown back into the water, resulting in death. Fishing and commerce of these sharks are now under licensing and regulation. Hammerheads are documented as only being responsible for 17 unprovoked attacks on humans thus far. The relatively smaller Bonnethead has proven easier to keep in captivity than the larger Hammerheads. The larger sharks need specially adapted, very large tanks, due to injuries occurring to their heads too often. Breeding of the Bonnethead in captivity has been successful at only a handful of facilities.

Absolutely amazing diving trips to dive with Hammerheads are available from the coast of Kwazulu Natal. Protea Banks, the diving site, is situated about 8 km off Shelly Beach. In the warmer months, Hammerheads appear overhead of the divers, in their hundreds.


Great White Shark Cage Diving, Gansbaai

Gansbaai Great White Shark Sightings March 2020

Great White Shark Sightings Update

So far into March, Gansbaai shark boat operators have seen and cage dived with some amazing Great White Sharks. Some days produced no less than 4 great white sharks with the largest being 4.5 meters.

“Great experience! We were so lucky and saw 4 great whites. What a day. Thanks to all the staff from booking to the experience on the boat. The staff we were booking with was so kind and did a lot to help us out! The experience on the boat was much more than we could ask for. I’m so happy.” – Patrick Simonsin, 16 March 2020.

Great White Shark Diving, Gansbaai

What happens when we don’t see Great White Sharks?

On most of these days, we cage dive and view a second large shark species that frequent Gansbaai waters, the Copper Shark. These sharks grow up to 3.5 meters and cage diving with them is a thrilling experience, as our client reviews can testify to.

Great white shark sightings can never be guaranteed, even though sightings have improved from that of 2019. Get in touch with us via the website Live Chat or WhatsApp to check recent sightings.

Gansbaai Great White Shark Sightings December 2019

Gansbaai operators have had some amazing great white shark sightings during recent months, despite the great white sharks not being seen in Cape Town anymore. Book your shark trip in Gansbaai here.

Gansbaai is a 2 ½ hour drive from the Cape Town city centre and is known as the Mecca or Capital of the Great White Shark.

Great white shark numbers have decreased and sightings are lower than usual however the Gansbaai boats continues to have great white shark sightings between the 7 boats in the Gansbaai shark cage diving and viewing fleet. Pre-storm, the latest great white sightings include several days during December, with the most recent great white sighting on 18 December.

A typical day shark diving in Gansbaai will have you cage diving with sharks – great whites or copper sharks. As the great whites numbers decreased, the Copper shark sightings have increased and cage diving now offers a chance to see these amazing sharks, that grow up to 3.5 meters, from the boat and cage. Whilst most days we cage dive with copper sharks, there is every chance that the next shark to pass by the cage is a great white shark, as many of our clients have experienced.

Great white shark numbers are thought be be dwindeling, not only due to Orca predation but also over-fishing of South Africa’s fish stocks. You can show your support against over-fishing in South Africa by signing a petition like this one  https://www.change.org/p/south-african-government-stop-chin… .

Read more about shark diving in Gansbaai here.

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