Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Key Differences

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: September 6, 2022
Image Credit A-Z-Animals.com
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The bull shark and the hammerhead shark are two of the most popular shark species on Earth. They both look ferocious and notably prey on several sea creatures.

In reality, both sharks do not have much in common apart from the fact that they are in fact, sharks. The hammerhead is quite docile, despite its appearance, and the bull shark is as aggressive as it looks. In fact, a large number of shark attacks are credited to bull sharks. 

In this article, we will clarify just how different these shark species are, alongside individual peculiarities and other interesting facts about their lifestyles. Let’s go!

Comparing Bull Shark Vs Hammerhead Shark

Bull sharkHammerhead Shark
SizeLength: 7ft-11.5 feet
Weight: 200-500 pounds 
Length: 3- 20 feet 
Weight: 300 – 1000 pounds
Appearance Bodies are covered in scales, having blunt-shaped snouts and rounded bodies with big saw-like teeth. Bull sharks have small eyes and poor vision.Hammer-shaped heads, serrated/triangular teeth, white bellies, gray-brown/olive green top, and 360-degree vision.
Habitat Location: Worldwide
Habitat: subtropical and tropical waters 
Location: Oceans worldwide 
Habitat: tropical/warm waters; coastlines and continental shelves 
Diet/Behavior Carnivorous; eats almost anything including dolphins, other fish, and sharks.
Known to be aggressive towards other sea creatures and humans.
Carnivorous; sticks to small fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans.
Hardly interacts with humans at sea.
Predators Humans and Tiger sharksHumans
Family CarcharhinidaeSphyrnidae
Lifespan/ReproductionLives for 16 to 25 years.
Gestation takes 10 – 11 months
Lives for 20 to 30 years.
Gestation takes 10 – 12 months

Key Differences Between Bull Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks

The key differences between hammerheads and bull sharks lie in their appearance and habits. Bull sharks have rounded bodies and small eyes, while hammerheads have larger bodies and distinct hammer-like heads with their eyes on the sides. Thus, you would be able to differentiate a hammerhead from a bull shark at a glance.

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Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Size

Great Hammerhead in the Bahamas. They are aggressive hunters and will attack if threatened.
Hammerhead sharks can grow as long as 1000 pounds.

Sail Far Dive Deep/Shutterstock.com

Bull sharks can grow as long as 11.5 feet and weigh up to 500 pounds. Some of them grow to be larger, as the biggest known bull shark weighed around 1000 pounds and was 10 feet long. While this is considerably large, hammerheads grow to be much bigger.

The average weight of the hammerhead shark is between 300 to 1000 pounds, and they grow as long as 20 feet! The biggest hammerhead, caught off the coast of Florida weighed 1280 pounds

Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Appearance 

A bull shark has a flat head with protruding snouts, small eyes, and a round body. Their skin is scaly and they are often gray or brownish with white underbellies and saw-like teeth. Hammerheads have rectangular heads with eyes on either side. They also have several rows of teeth on each jaw and hundreds of sharp teeth. The positioning of a hammerhead’s eyes allows it to see ahead, and all around it, unlike bull sharks who have poor vision.

Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Location and Habitat 

Hammerheads can be found in coastal waters and continental shelves around the world. High populations live off the coast of Florida, Hawaii, and Costa Rica. Bull sharks, on the other hand, are highly migratory, swimming up and down the Amazon River and freshwater lakes, especially Lake Nicaragua. There have also been bull shark sightings in the Great Lakes!

Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Diet

Bull shark facts - mouth of a bull shark
Although rare, bull sharks eat other bull sharks.

Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

As is the case with most other shark species, bull sharks and hammerhead sharks are majorly carnivores. 

Bull sharks are heavy hunters who chase and eat practically anything including other bull sharks. They are regarded as aggressive and unpredictable. Hammerheads feed mainly on crustaceans, small fish, and stingrays. Despite their large size, they do not attack unprovoked and keep their movements to coastal waters.

Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Predators

Much like hammerheads, bull sharks are apex predators. When fully grown, a hammerhead has its size in its favor and is hardly under threat from any other predator. So, the biggest threat to hammerheads is fishing by humans. Hammerhead sharks are, however, hunted by other sharks including tiger sharks, great white sharks, and killer whales. 

Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Lifespan and Reproduction

Bull shark facts - bull shark with human
The oldest known bull shark lived for 32 years.

wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

Hammerhead sharks typically have an average lifespan of 30 years. Some have lived as long as 44 years, whereas the oldest bull shark known lived for 32 years. 

Bull sharks reach sexual maturity between 8 to 10 years of age. Gestation takes 10 to 11 months, after which pups are born. The females give birth in freshwater, and the baby sharks are left to fend for themselves. Their litter contains between 1 to 10 pups, sometimes 13, all of whom are left to fend for themselves. 

Hammerhead sharks also leave their young to fend for themselves after birthing them in shallow waters. Gestation takes 1 to 12 months, and litters can be as large as 26 pups.

Bull Shark vs Hammerhead Shark: Conservation status

Hammerheads have been categorized as critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is a result of the heavy fishing activity targeted at this shark species. Although their total population is unknown, they are certainly dwindling drastically. Bull sharks, on the other hand, do not experience onslaughts of such magnitude and are categorized as near-threatened species.

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