Hammerhead Predators: What Eats Hammerhead Sharks?

Earth is home to many unique creatures. From the elephant to the blobfish, they all have their role to play. But for hammerheads, some of the most enigmatic fish in the ocean, the biggest question might be: what do hammerheads eat? We all know that sharks are carnivorous predators that rely on preying on sea creatures for survival, but do they have any natural predators? The answer might surprise you; It’s closer to home than you might think.

Here we learn about hammerhead sharks, where they live and what they look like. Then let’s take a look at the five creatures known to eat hammerhead sharks. For each, we’ll learn a little more about them before we get to the surprising top spot on our list. Finally, we delve deeper into shark ecology and find out why hammerheads are in danger of disappearing from our oceans and why that’s a big deal.

Read on to find out what eats hammerhead sharks!

Get to know hammerhead sharks

Great hammerhead shark in the Bahamas.  They are aggressive hunters and will attack if they feel threatened.
There are nine species of hammerhead shark.

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Hammerhead sharks are among the strangest animals in the world. Their eyes are located at each end of their hammer-shaped head, giving them a 360-degree field of vision. But the Hammer doesn’t just give them excellent vision; it also means they are incredibly sensitive to even the smallest stimulus. A hammerhead shark can sense the movement of a fish even when buried in the sand.

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These incredible sharks are terrifying, but they’ve never been involved in a single human fatality. That’s not to say they won’t bite if threatened or provoked. Hammerheads are still fierce animals with sharp teeth and a predatory nature. They should be treated with respect and caution when encountered. Adult hammerheads have no natural predators other than number one on our list.

Where do hammerhead sharks live?

Creatures that eat hammerheads must venture into shallow coastal waters to find their hammerheaded prey. Hammerheads are not deep sea sharks. Instead, they occupy the warm, shallow waters off the coasts of Australia, Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, and southern parts of North America. They also live near islands like Hawaii and New Zealand.

What do hammerhead sharks eat?

5. Hammerheads

Baby hammerhead shark closeup
Adult hammerheads can make a meal out of baby hammerheads.

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This may come as a surprise, but one of the fish that hammerheads eat is none other than the hammerhead itself. Adult hammerheads are not fussy when it comes to a meal; If a baby hammerhead shark gets too close, there’s a risk it will become dinner for the adult.

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4. Tiger Sharks

Biggest Tiger Shark - Tiger sharks swim together
Tiger sharks have unique teeth that are flat, serrated, and curved sideways to aid in shredding delicate fish flesh.

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Known for the tiger-like stripes down their sides and their penchant for eating junk, tiger sharks will eat just about anything. They eat hammerhead sharks, seals, sea lions, sea turtles, bony fish and rays. Adult tiger sharks don’t think twice about snacking on a baby hammerhead or two.

3. Orca whales

Apex Predator: Killer Whales
Orcas, also known as killer whales, are significantly smaller than blue whales or sperm whales, but larger than dolphins and porpoises.

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Known for their spectacular tricks at aquatic amusement parks, orca whales actually live in all oceans of the world. Orcas will eat hammerhead sharks, but only on very rare occasions. Their prey more commonly includes seals and sea lions, as well as baby blue whales and baby humpback whales.

2. Great White Sharks

Biggest Shark: Great White Shark
The great white shark has a reputation for being a cold-blooded killer.

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Another fish that eats hammerheads is the infamous great white shark. Although great white sharks don’t specifically target hammerheads, they are opportunistic hunters who won’t turn down a simple meal. This is especially true for juvenile great white sharks (less than 2.70 m in length) who spend their formative years in shallow coastal waters. In those years, great white sharks share the same waters as hammerhead sharks. So when a baby hammerhead shark crosses the path of a hungry pre-teen white man, it’ll probably be for lunch.

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1. people

Baby hammerhead shark released after capture
Humans are responsible for most hammerhead shark deaths.

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That’s correct! No animal on earth eats hammerhead sharks more than humans. The most common form of consumption is shark fin soup, a delicacy in many Asian countries. Unfortunately, the fondness for shark fin soup, along with a few other factors, has led to a drastic decline in hammerhead numbers worldwide.

One of the most important parts of shark conservation today is not eating sharks. There are a few good reasons to avoid the meat of these apex predators. First, shark meat tends to have an unpleasant taste. But on top of that, it tends to have very high levels of mercury, making consumption not only ecologically disastrous but also dangerous.

Why Hammerhead Sharks Matter

Hammerheads, like all sharks, are macropredators at the top of the food chain or web. The health of our oceanic ecosystems rests on their shoulders or fins. That’s because hammerheads are key species. If we are to preserve these incredible fish for future generations and for the health of our oceans, it is important to act now. Educate yourself about sharks and shark conservation, and reduce the amount of plastic you use, especially single-use plastic. Choose sustainable fish dishes and never eat shark meat.