While many of our visitors point and declare "hammerhead!" when they see this shark cruising through the exhibit, the bonnethead shark is easily distinguished from its much larger cousin.
This shark’s head is considerably narrower than that of the hammerhead and is much more rounded in the front—hence its other common name, the shovelhead shark.
The nostrils of the hammerhead are elongated into grooves that extend along the front of the head. These grooves are absent in the bonnethead, whose nostrils are located close to the eyes, near the ends of the flattened spade-shaped head.
The sides and back of the body are greenish-gray to dark brown with a paler underside.
Bonnethead sharks feed primarily on crustaceans, but they also eat clams, octopuses, and small fish.
This is the second smallest shark in the hammerhead family, averaging 30–48, with a maximum reported total length of 59 inches. Bonnetheads can weigh up to 24 pounds.
The bonnethead shark is found in tropical and subtropical waters on both sides of North America: from North Carolina to southern Brazil, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and from Southern California to Ecuador.
It lives in estuaries and shallow bays with mud or sand bottoms, and in the waters over coral reefs.
This species is not threatened.
Some large sharks, such as tiger and lemon sharks, prey on bonnetheads.
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