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the web of life in southern Africa

Sphyrna lewini (Scalloped hammerhead)

(Griffith&Smith, in Cuvier, Griffith & Smith, 1834)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Carcharhiniformes > Sphyrnidae

Sphyrna lewini (Scalloped hammerhead) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A large hammerhead with a notch at the centre of head, 1st dorsal moderately high, 2nd dorsal and pelvic fins low. Colour light grey or bronzy to reddish above, white below, lower lobe of caudal fin with dark blotch.


To over 3.7 m TL.


East coast, Port St. Johns to Mozambique; circumglobal in all warm seas.



Close inshore, off sandy beaches and in shallow bays, and well offshore, surface down to at least 275 m.


Bears 15 to 31 young. Off Natal the young form huge schools. Mostly eats squid and bony fish including elf, maasbanker, sardine, mullet, and ladyfish, but also takes other sharks, lobsters and shrimp.

Human Impact

Caught by shore and skiboat anglers, and commonly taken by the Natal shark nets. Often timid when encountered by divers.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale