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the web of life in southern Africa

Sphyrna zygaena (Smooth hammerhead)

(Linnaeus, 1758)

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

Sphyrna zygaena (Smooth hammerhead) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A large hammerhead without a notch at the centre of head, 1st dorsal moderately high, 2nd dorsal and pelvic fins low. Colour olive grey or dark grey above white below.


To 4 m TL.


Southwest and east coast, St. Helena Bay to Mozambique; all temperate and tropical seas.



Inshore and well offshore, surface to at least 200 m deep.


Common off the eastern Cape. Bears 29 to 37 young. Enormous schools of young have been seen in Algoa Bay and off adjacent areas. Large adults occur offshore, while the young are found up to the surfline. Feeds on bony fish, including maasbanker, sardine, gurnard, panga, hake, and anchovy, other sharks, skates and rays, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp and crabs.

Human Impact.

Caught by shore and skiboat anglers and bottom trawlers, and by the Natal shark nets. Will steal speared fish from divers.

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