Hammerhead sharks and humans

A guest on the Ellen show, on Monday, showed a scene near the Galápagos Islands off Chile, with a large number of hammerhead sharks. I went to the Ask Jeeves site to ask about what those sharks eat, but no mention appeared about humans.
I’m fairly certain that the hammerhead, the great white, and the tiger shark are hostile to humans. Are any other kinds of sharks thus inclined?

IIRC,bull sharks are very aggressive and are responsible for more attacks on humans than any other shark.(I’ll have to check that.)

Also,they can swim up fresh water rivers.They have been seen amazing distances up the Mississippi,for instance.All in all,don’t try to pet one.


You have to consider what sharks people are most likely to come into contact with, and the nature of the contact…and the ‘intent’ of the shark.

Great White attacks surfer off California coast = mistaken identity…human thought to be a seal.

Bull Sharks happen to stumble upon swimmers because they tend to meet up failry ‘frequently’ when people hit the beach/surf.

Just be carfeul about declaring something ‘hostile to humans’. This overall tone doesn’t help a shark’s image. The shark’s ‘image’ is important, because seeing it as ‘hostile’ can only lead to human hostility (unprovoked) against sharks.

I just got back from a dive trip to the Galapagos, and can attest personally to having been in very close proximity to MANY hammerhead sharks - and survived. I think the key point which you observed is that humans are NOT a normal part of their diet. This is key in “understanding” just how dangerous sharks are to humans. Most incidents involve either being perceived as a threat, or of mistaken identity (for some normal prey). Since humans are not a normal part of their diet, they do not seek them out when in the water.

The dives we did off Darwin island (furthest north of the Galapagos islands) were at an area where the sharks come to have the parasites cleaned off of them. We would hunker down in the rocks (more to avoid scaring the sharks away, than be protected from them), and watch as groups of them swam by. Occasionally one would kind of hover (there was significant current) and these king angel fish would come along and do the cleaning. So we would be treated to this great show of hammerheads swiming overhead, or coming really close and just hanging out.
Every once in a while, for whatever reason (maybe invaded personal space or something), I saw two sharks kind of “bump”, and then immediately shoot off in different directions. It was pretty amazing, and kind of showed they can be a little skittish.

After hanging in the rocks, we’d cruise (drift) with the current and eventually be swept away from the island out into the blue. A couple times we came to these huge “parades” of 100s of hammerheads. As near as I could tell (difficult to tell with little frame of reference) the parade would kind of bend to avoid us, and pretty much could care less about us. With 18, easy to catch, humans, it could have easily been quite a feeding frenzy. But we just swam through in awe, and they went about their business.

Well, I guess “dangerous” is a better word than “hostile.” There are, of course, critters larger than the hammerhead shark, but they tend to be “gentle giants.” The blue whale, for example.
In a similar vein, bees can be dangerous to humans, but I work in my own yard and customers’ yards, and have not been stung once. My guess is the bees go about their business and ignore me; perhaps the sharks near the islands off Ecuador had the same philosophy.
As for two hammerheads bumping, I guess that is a natural consequence of the way their eyes are set–on the ends of long stalks. They must have some difficulty getting really close to anything…

FTR, my first dive partner had two set of semi-circular scars. On set on his right thigh, the other on his left shoulder. They looked like a string of the world’s largests dimples. Some were close to 2" deep.
Hammerhead shark. First to the thigh, then the shoulder. Third hit was to his SCUBA tank, and the shark gave up.
A very sobering sight when you went to suit up for a dive.

If “Ask Jeeves” doesen’t provide the answer to your question, you didnt ask the right question! Try “hammerhead sharks eat humans.”

I believe the fact that those hammerheads fead at night in very deep water also benefited you. They swim around like that killing time until dinner time.