How Do Hammerhead Sharks Mate?


Male Hammerhead Sharks Selectively Choose a Mate

  • Hammerhead sharks can produce up to 40 babies each year. The male hammerhead sharks prefer larger females because they have been shown to have more babies, or pups. The larger females can bear 3 to 4 times more pups than the smaller or younger females. The bigger females are almost always located in the middle of a school of hammerheads where she is most protected. This is also the first place male hammerheads go when they are looking for a female to mate with. After the male hammerhead shark finds the female he wants to mate with he will pull her away from the school of hammerhead sharks and mate with her out in the ocean away from all the other sharks. The male likes to be in a private area before mating will begin.

Mating Can be Violent

  • The male and female sharks will briefly become more acquainted with each other before mating begins. After this very quick moment the male will begin to become very aggressive with his female partner. It almost looks as if he is tormenting her and she may fight back at first. He will nip and bite her in a very violent manner until she totally submits to him and then mating can begin. The female hammerhead shark will end up on her back as they tussle about under water. The male may also resort to getting her to submit several times by continuing to be violent. The male shark will mount himself on top of the female and insert his penis inside of her several times until fertilization happens. After a female becomes pregnant she will carry the baby hammerheads in her womb for an average of 10 to 12 months.

Hammerhead Sharks Give Live Birth

  • When the female hammerhead shark is ready to deliver her babies she will move to more shallow waters. Shallow waters are generally free from many other predators so there is a certain level of safety that females feel in these waters. The female will give birth to the baby hammerheads one by one, and they are only able to come out easily because the hammers on their heads haven't fully hardened yet. They are flexible which enables them to move out of the birth canal and be born. After the pups are born, they are on their own to fend for themselves. The mother does not stay with the babies for any length of time. She basically gives birth and immediately leaves them.

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