Common Name– Ground Sharks
Common Name– Hammerhead Sharks
Status: IUCN Red List ENDANGERED
Average Size and Length: Their maximum recorded body length is 6.1 feet, but commonly reaching 3 1/2 feet.
Average Weight: It is unknown and undocumented.
Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The Winghead shark is through to be one of the more ancient species of Hammerhead sharks, and thus other species are evolving by the appearance of a ‘shrinking’ cephalofoil. In comparison to other species, the Winghead shark has one of the largest cephalofoil.
Teeth and Jaw: The Winghead shark has a small, arched mouth that contains 15–16 upper and 14 lower tooth rows on each side, and sometimes also a single row of tiny teeth at the upper and/or lower symphyses (jaw midpoints). Winghead shark teeth are small and smooth-edged, with angled triangular cusps.
Head: Large ‘T’-Shape. A Winghead shark’s head, measured from the tip of one narrow lobe to the other, is 40-50% the length of their body. It has long nostrils that extend nearly the length of each lobe, making them longer than its crescent shaped mouth. The circular eyes of a Winghead shark are located at the forward outer corners of the cephalofoil, are equipped with protective nictitating membranes.
Dermal Denticles: Overlapping with three horizontal ridges leading to marginal teeth.
Tail: It has an upper precaudal pit longitudinal, and it is not crescent-shaped.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Winghead shark is a poorly studied species. The Winghead shark is widespread along the coast of southern Asia in the Indian Ocean, and around islands of the western Pacific. Winghead Sharks are found from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia to northern Australia (Queensland and Northern Territory). They are common in the fisheries of India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Diet: It is not recorded, but of what research there is, it is suggested that Winghead sharks feed on crabs shrimp, cephalopods, and small fishes, buried in the sediment.
Ram-Suction Index: It is suggested a combination of both.
Aesthetic Identification: The Winghead shark is Grey or grey-brown above, and paler below. They can easily be identified by the immense wing-shaped head or cephalofoil with narrow blades, measuring about half the shark’s total body length. The eyes are set far apart on the extremely broad head.
Biology and Reproduction: The Winghead shark has 5 pairs of gill slits, the fifth pair is over the pectoral fin. The body is slim and streamlined, with a very tall, narrow, and falcate (sickle-shaped) first dorsal fin that originates over the bases of the rather small pectoral fins. The second dorsal fin is much smaller and originates over the aft third of the anal fin base. The anal fin is about half as long as the second dorsal fin. A lengthwise groove is on the caudal peduncle at the dorsal origin of the caudal fin.
Winghead shark pups are born at about 1-1.5 feet in length. Gestation in Winghead sharks is probably around 8 months, but there are reports of 10-11 months. They can have anywhere from 6-25 pups.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Pregnant female Winghead sharks reportedly fight each other. They are not aggressive towards humans, and not known to bite people, unlike the larger species.
The wide far apart eyes may have the effect of improving the Winghead shark’s stereoscopic vision. The wide nasal grooves can trial a very large section of the water, which may enhance the Winghead shark’s ability to detect and locate odor sources.
Speed: Average. The head is not designed for speed, but for sensing prey.
Winghead Shark Future and Conservation: Winghead sharks are exploited commercially in Southeast Asia, but because the winghead population has a high natural mercury content, it is not generally marketed elsewhere. Although hammerhead fins are valuable, and they can die very quickly when hooked or entangled, therefore unfortunately, live release of bycatch is unusual.
Winghead Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: None