Think of sharks and you imagine terrifying killers that smell blood a hundred kilometers away and zero in for the kill. Turns out that impression, which had been near-accurate in all of history, is up for revision. One of the most common sharks in the world, called the bonnet head shark, is actually an omnivore with plants making up over 60% of its daily diet. Sharks, we thought we knew you. But it turns out we may have had it all wrong.
Thanks to researchers at the University of California, Irvine, new information has come to light about the bonnet head shark. The sharks were thought to be solely carnivorous, but now there’s evidence they’re omnivorous, they can eat both animals and plants.
Here we talk about some information regarding bonnet head shark, the bonnet head shark or shovelhead is a small member of the hammerhead shark genus Sphyrna, and part of the family Sphyrnidae.
Bonnet heads are found in shallow waters in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina south to southern Brazil, including most of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They are rare in Bermuda. In the eastern Pacific, they occur from southern California south to Ecuador. Bonnet heads are at home in a wide range of habitats. Always occurring in small groups, numbering from just a few specimens to perhaps a dozen or so, the bonnet head can be found over inshore coral reefs, estuaries, and shallow bays over sand and mud bottoms.
Sphyrna tiburo is a subtropical shark that prefers water in the low to mid 70s Fahrenheit. While generally considered a strictly marine species, they will readily travel in and out of brackish estuaries with the ebbing and flooding of tides. Bonnet heads need water that is well oxygenated and of generally good quality. Few problems will occur if extremes in water chemistry are avoided.
Of the group, only the bonnet head has a head that is semicircular-shaped in front. Other hammerheads are generally flat or scalloped. The broadened front end of the bonnet head acts as a sort of critter detector, which allows them to hone in on edible foodstuffs lying just under the surface of the bottom. Chiefly crustacean feeders, bonnet heads prefer crabs, shrimps, small lobsters, and various shellfish over most other foods. Of course, being sharks they certainly enjoy a meal of fish whenever the opportunity presents itself, but they generally are not nimble enough to give chase over extended ranges in search of bait fishes and such.
Bonnet head sharks are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young, or pups. Females give birth to between six and nine pups per litter, which measure somewhere around 35 cm (15 inches) or so at birth. Young bonnet heads grow fast their first year and eventually reach about 150 cm (5 feet).
While bonnet heads are not particularly aggressive in, say, a great white shark sort of way, they are still sharks and they have sharp teeth, which are capable of inflicting serious wounds to human skin and flesh. There is one documented account of an attack by a bonnet head on a human. For a 5-foot shark, they sure do pack a lot of punch.
Sharks in general are easily stressed creatures. There is quite a lot to cover, in fact, for this article, regarding what specifically stresses them. In most cases just the fact that these majestic creatures are being stripped from the sea and stuffed in a comparatively small glass box is stress enough to basically shorten their lives by an estimated 75 percent. Those that do thrive are few and far between but certainly do prove a true testament to the abilities of the keeper.
Ruining the reputation of sharks as bloodthirsty predators, California researchers said they have found a shark that enjoys a side of sea grass with its prey.
Bonnet head sharks not only eat grass while chomping fish and squid, they also digest the plant and gain nutrition from it, scientists at the University of California, Irvine announced.
Researchers more said, it turns out bonnet heads have high levels of enzymes that break down fiber and carbohydrates, compared with the low amount carnivores typically have. That makes the bonnet head the first known omnivorous shark.
It was previously believed that bonnet heads unintentionally consumed the grass in shallow areas where the species lives along some coastlines in the US, Central and South America. The smallest of the ten hammerhead species, bonnet heads are typically about 0.6 to 0.9 meters long.
Samantha Leigh, who headed the four-year study at UCI’s School of Biological Sciences, said she hopes the discovery will help protect sea grass ecosystems that are at risk from climate change. She also said, “The fact a highly abundant kind of shark feeds on the grasses is yet another indication of why we need to preserve this vegetation,”.
In conclusion note I have to say that, The Bonnet head sharks are amazing creatures that deserve the very best setup and care that can be offered to them in captivity. It is impossible to emphasize enough just how important experience and quality control is in maintaining these animals in home aquariums. In most cases (basically all cases), these animals are best left to the trained experts of public aquariums who have the resources available to them to house and care for them. Even though bonnet heads attain a relatively small size in comparison to other requiem sharks, they still need far more swimming room than you may think. Perhaps a few visits a year to a local aquarium that houses bonnet heads will be enough to satisfy the craving to keep these majestic sharks yourself.