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Golden Hammerhead
Scientific Name:
Sphyrna tudes
Family Name:
4 feet
20 pounds
pale yellow
shrimp, marine catfishes
HOME >> WATER SPECIES >> SHARKS >> Golden Hammerhead

Golden Hammerhead

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Golden Hammerhead Description
  The Golden Hammerhead Shark inhabits the northeastern coast of South America, from Venezuela to Uruguay. It is found in coastal waters at depths of 30 to 130 feet (9 to 40 metres) over muddy bottoms. The Golden Hammerhead is a small species which attains a maximum size of about 4 feet and 20 pounds (1.22 metres and 9 kilograms). The most distinctive characteristic of this species is its striking bright orange or yellow color. Juveniles less than 2.5 feet (80 centimetres) long are bright yellow or orange; adults are pale yellow. The color is apparently due to pigments present in this species' diet; juveniles feed primarily on penaeid shrimp (especially Xiphopenaeus kroyeri), while adults feed on marine catfishes (family Ariidae) and their eggs. Two pigments have been isolated and, at the time of Castro's 1989 report, their biochemical characterization was being ascertained (one of these pigments is almost certainly a form of carotene, a class of unsaturated hydrocarbons which gives ariid catfish eggs their rich golden/orange color). Male Golden Hammerheads mature at a length of about 2.5 feet (80 centimetres); females of this species at a length of about 3.2 feet (98 centimetres). Off Trinidad, female Golden Hammerheads ovulate and mate during the month of August. Developing pups of this species - like those most other members of the family Carcharhinidae (the one exception is the Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, which relies on yolk reserves throughout its 13- to 16-month gestation period) - are nourished at late stages of gestation via a yolk-sac placenta. Gestation of the Golden Hammerhead appears to last about 10 months; off Trinidad, birth occurs in shallow waters from late May to June. Broods of this species consist of 5 to 12 pups, which at birth measure about 1 foot (30 centimetres) long. In female Golden Hammerheads, the ovarian cycle runs concurrently with the gestation cycle, so it seems likely that females of this species are fertilized shortly after giving birth and that the species reproduces every year (rather than having a two-year reproductive cycle as in many larger carcharhinids, in which females take a year off after giving birth, recovering and building up energy stores for a year before mating again).  
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