Hammerhead in Birmingham

The first hammerhead sharks ever seen in a British aquarium have taken up residence at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham.

A pair of scalloped hammerheads has joined the black-tipped reef sharks and giant sea turtles in the attraction's tropical ocean tank.

The new arrivals will help the Centre's drive to raise awareness of shark conservation needs.

Youngsters of only a little over three feet long, they could eventually grow to over two metres.

Curator Graham Burrows said "They are truly amazing creatures and will help us in our efforts to persuade people that sharks are diverse and fascinating, and worthy of protection rather than persecution."

Hammerhead "Scalloped hammerheads are a particularly appropriate choice to aid the Sea Life centre in its endeavours, as they may soon become a protected species.
 
One of the prime reasons is the grisly shark-finning trade, and since the fins of both species are hard to tell apart, trade in scalloped hammerheads needs to be controlled to safeguard the greater hammerhead.

There was good news for scalloped hammerheads in January when the Spanish government prohibited their capture by its own fishing fleet.

They are also benefiting from a recent decision by the Maldives to declare 90,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean a shark sanctuary where shark fishing will no longer be allowed.

And if all goes well they'll be added to a conservation list which will afford them more widespread protection.

The bizarre shape of the hammerhead's head gives it two unique advantages over other sharks.

The position of the eyes means they have 360-degree vision, and electro-sensors on the underside of the head enable the hammerhead to sweep the seabed 'metal-detector' fashion and detect prey hiding under the sand.

We feel privileged to have been chosen to host these two amazing sharks"

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