Great Hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran (Rüppell 1837)

Other Names: Great Hammerhead Shark, Hoe-head Shark

A Great Hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran, at South Bimini Island, Bahamas, January 2015. Source: Nigel Marsh / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial


A very large pale grey to bronzy greyish-brown hammerhead becoming white below, and no conspicuous markings on the fins. The front margin of the head is almost straight in adults with a slight median notch, the first dorsal fin is very tall and curved with a pointed tip, and the second dorsal and pelvic fins are also high with deeply concave rear margins. 

Video of a female Great Hammerhead in the Bahamas.

Video of a Great Hammerhead from the ARKive group.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Sphyrna mokarran in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Dec 2023,

Great Hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran (Rüppell 1837)

More Info


Known in Australian waters from Mandurah, Western Australia, around the tropical north to about Sydney, New South Wales.

Elsewhere, this pelagic shark occurs in coastal and offshore waters in tropical and warm temperate seas to depths of 300 m.


Teeth heavily serrated.


Feeds on bony and cartilaginous fishes, cephalopod molluscs and crustaceans, with a preference for bottom-living prey such as the Australian Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera neglecta, during the austral summer.


Males mature at 225–269 cm TL, females mature at 210–300 cm TL, and the species may live up to 44 years. Reproduction is aplacental viviparous, and females likely give birth to litters of 6–42 pups every two years, with a gestation time of 11 months. Pups are born at a total length of 50–70 cm. 


Taken globally as a target and bycatch species in coastal and pelagic large- and small-scale longline, purse seine, and gillnet fisheries. Fins of the Giant Hammerhead are a significant component of the fin trade and one of the preferred species for shark fin soup.


  • IUCN Red List : Critically Endangered
  • CITES Listed : Appendix II
  • Remarks

    Great Hammerheads routinely swim on their sides and periodically roll from side to side. A previous study used wind tunnel tests with a rigid model hammerhead shark to demonstrate that the rolling behavior could improve swimming efficiency using the tall first dorsal fin as a lift-generating surface (Royer et al. 2020).

    Species Citation

    Zygaena mokarran Rüppell 1837, Fische des Rothen Meeres Vol. 3: 64, pl. 18, fig. 1. Type locality: Massawa (as Massaua), Eritrea, Red Sea.


    Bray, D.J. 2020


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Great Hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran (Rüppell 1837)


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    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37019002

    Conservation:IUCN Critically Endangered; CITES Listed

    Danger:Potentially dangerous

    Depth:0-300 m

    Fishing:Fished for their fins

    Max Size:610 cm TL

    Species Image Gallery

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map