The Size Of These Hammerhead Sharks Will Keep You From The Water

Hammerhead sharks' funky tool-shaped heads, with eyes located on the sides of their heads, help them have a wide range of vision while they hunt for food, according to National Geographic. Luckily for humans, most hammerhead shark species are relatively small, are not aggressive, and prefer stingrays, crustaceans, and fish over people. However, these sharks can grow upwards of 20 feet in length and weigh more than half a ton. The "enormous size and fierceness" of one species of hammerhead, the great hammerhead, "make it potentially dangerous," (via National Geographic)

Generally, not many sharks kill humans per year. Although hammerhead shark attacks are particularly rare — with just 16 non-fatal attacks and zero fatal attacks recorded in the International Shark Attack File since 1580 compared to 102 non-fatal and 36 fatal attacks for the tiger shark — most people probably still wouldn't feel too comfortable getting in the water with one of these wide-eyed sharks.

A surprise catch

In 2018, one of the largest hammerhead sharks ever captured was reported by a group of fishing buddies in Padre Island National Seashore in Texas. They didn't get a single bite from the fish they were looking for, but at the end of their two-day trip, they did get a sizeable nibble from one 14-foot long, 900-pound-plus hammerhead shark, according to the El Paso Times. Fishing from their pickup truck, it took the crew 15 minutes to reel in the shark together. Once they got it on shore, they realized the shark was exhausted, so they tried to get it back into deeper waters, per the El Paso Times. But after 40 minutes, the shark died (via El Paso Times).

Wanting to do something good with the sharks meat, the group of friends donated it to the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in nearby Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Shark catches a shark

One of the largest hammerhead sharks ever recorded was caught by former professional golfer Greg Norman in Palm Beach, Florida in 2019, according to A-Z Animals. Norman — coincidentally known as "The Great White Shark" and famous for one of the scandals that rocked the golf world – was reeling in a blacktip shark when the hammerhead came up to steal his bait, according to USA Today. Battling the shark for an hour, they eventually got it near the boat to snap a photo and measure it. Just topping the fishing crew's hammerhead in Texas, this shark weighed nearly 1,200 pounds and measured over 14.5 feet.

According to The New York Times, the official heaviest hammerhead ever recorded was one caught by Captain Buckey Dennis off the coast of Florida in 2006 that weighed in at 1,280 pounds and measured 14.5 inches. According to A-Z Animals, this shark was "pregnant with 55 pups at the time," which contributed to the weight.

Although it must have been miraculous to witness a hammerhead up close, it's best not to reel them in when fishing. According to A-Z animals, five species of hammerhead sharks are critically endangered and many are sadly captured to be sold and used for shark head soup.