Scientists Find Hammerhead Shark Nursery in Galapagos

Reuters file photo
A hammerhead shark swims near Wolf Island at Galapagos Marine Reserve in August 2013.

QUITO (Reuters) — A team of researchers has discovered a potential breeding ground for smooth hammerhead sharks off an island in Ecuador’s Galapagos archipelago, in what would be a “very rare” sighting, the national park said in a statement on  May 2.

The so-called “nursery” would be the first breeding site for smooth hammerheads, or Sphyrna zygaena, in the Galapagos if confirmed, the park said.

The smooth hammerhead is one of nine known species of hammerhead shark. It is considered “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species.

Scientists on a Greenpeace expedition toured the Galapagos Marine Reserve several weeks ago, spotting a young female hammerhead off of Isabela Island, the Galapagos’ largest island, and tagging her.

Researchers will continue to monitor the shark to confirm that she was in a breeding area.

The Galapagos Islands with its unique wildlife was critical to British scientist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is home to many species not found elsewhere such as giant tortoises, flightless cormorants and marine iguanas.

Many are also in danger of extinction.