The largest and most common of all shark species, the hammerhead shark is a member of the great white shark family, which is found off the coast of southern Africa and off the coasts of the United States.
Hammerhead sharks are not very common but their range is vast.
Scientists say they are one of the most abundant sharks on the planet, with populations in the world’s oceans reaching up to 10,000 individuals.
The hammerhead is found in coastal waters off the south east coast of Africa and in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast, where it can be found on reefs, in sandy beaches and in deep sea caves.
Scientists believe the hammerheads habitat has changed significantly over the past 50 years, with more and more animals coming to live in the waters off Cape Town, South Africa.
The number of hammerheads in the water has doubled since the late 1980s, according to research by the University of Cape Town and the University and the South African Institute of Marine Science.
The researchers found that the sharks’ range has expanded to include large coastal populations, where they have also become more tolerant to the sun.
The scientists suggest that this may have to do with the change in climate.
“It’s a bit of a paradox that these areas have experienced so much warming and also, that they have seen such a large increase in hammerhead numbers,” said Dr Mark Eriksson, an oceanographer at the University.
“What we’re seeing is the first time we’ve seen hammerheads increase in their range and also the first times they’ve been able to expand into those areas.”
The researchers say this expansion in the number of species may be due to warmer conditions and increased fishing pressure.
Dr Erikson says the researchers found no evidence that climate change caused the increase in populations of hammerhead sharks, although there may be a link to climate change.
Hammerheads are found in more than 80 countries around the world, but only a small number of them live in southern Africa.
While most people in the region are unaware of the species, there are reports of hammersharks living on the beaches of South Africa and New Zealand.
“I think the first reports came from Cape Town,” Dr Erickson said.
“The first time I heard about it, I had a conversation with a fisherman in New Zealand and they told me there was a great white living on a beach there.
I don’t know what that species is, but it’s been on the south west coast of the South Island since the 1980s.”
Hammerheads can live up to 25 years and can reach lengths of up to 6 metres.
The South African Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the National Geographic Society have both launched campaigns urging people to stay out of the water and to only fish with sharks.
“We need to make sure the public are aware of what they are doing and don’t kill the sharks,” Dr Halle says.
“If people are fishing for sharks, it’s a matter of conservation.
They have a very important role to play in protecting this wonderful marine habitat.”
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