Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 100, Issue 12, pp 1603–1608 | Cite as

First observation on the mating behaviour of the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark Sphyrna lewini in the Tropical Eastern Pacific

  • P. Salinas-de-LeónEmail author
  • E. M. Hoyos-Padilla
  • F. Pochet


Here we provide a detailed analysis of the first complete sequence of a mating event for the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini. This analysis is based on a mating event recorded at Isla del Coco National Park, Costa Rica, where large schools of hammerhead sharks are frequently encountered. S lewini mating sequence can be characterized by: (1) an open water encounter, (2) pre-copulatory biting, (3) grabbing of pectoral fin/copulation, (4) free fall, (5) separation and (6) following. Based on this single observation we found that only one male appears to be involved in a copulation cycle and that mating took place in a high current zone potentially to favor respiration when both individuals are unable to swim. This observation highlights the difficulty in observing mating behavior for this species since mating is likely to occur in open waters.


Hammerhead shark Reproduction ETP Conservation 



We thank the Undersea Hunter Group for allowing us to use this underwater video footage for our analyses and dive guide Wilson Cadavid for all the valuable information. We also thank to the crew of M/V Argo their helpful comments on this manuscript. We are grateful to the Helsmley Charitable Trust for their financial support. We are grateful to Ana Victoria Moya and Florencia Cerutti for their valuable comments to previous versions of this manuscript. This is contribution number 2176 from the Charles Darwin Foundation.

Supplementary material

10641_2017_668_MOESM1_ESM.avi (213.4 mb)
ESM 1 (213 mb)


  1. Agassiz L (1871) On the method of copulation among selachians. Proc Boston Soc Nat Hist 14:339–341Google Scholar
  2. Baum J, Clarke S, Domingo A, Ducrocq M, Lamónaca AF, Gaibor N, Graham R, Jorgensen S, Kotas JE, Medina E, Martinez-Ortiz J, Monzini Taccone di Sitizano J, Morales MR, Navarro SS, Pérez JC, Ruiz C, Smith W, Valenti SV, Vooren CM (2007) Sphyrna lewini (Eastern Central and Southeast Pacific subpopulation). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T165291A6000761. Accessed 07 Nov 2016
  3. Bessesen BL (2015) Occurrence and distribution patterns of several marine vertebrates in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Rev Biol Trop 63:261–272Google Scholar
  4. Bessudo S, Soler GA, Klimley AP et al (2011) Residency of the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) at Malpelo Island and evidence of migration to other islands in the eastern tropical Pacific. Environ Biol Fish 91:165–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eberhard WG (1985) Sexual selection and animal genitalia, vol 244. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Friedlander AM, Zgliczynski BJ, Ballesteros E et al (2012) The shallow-water fish assemblage of Isla del coco National Park, Costa Rica: structure and patterns in an isolated, predator-dominated ecosystem. Rev Biol Trop 60:321–338Google Scholar
  7. Gilbert PW (1972) The clasper-siphon sac mechanism in Squalus acanthias and Mustelus Canis. Comp Biochem Physiol A Physiol 42:97–119Google Scholar
  8. Hazin F, Fischer A, Broadhurst M (2001) Aspects of reproductive biology of the scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini, off northeastern Brazil. Environ Biol Fish 61:151–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hearn A, Ketchum J, Klimley AP et al (2010) Hotspots within hotspots? Hammerhead shark movements around Wolf Island, Galapagos marine reserve. Mar Biol 157:1899–1915CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Johnson RH, Nelson DR (1978) Copulation and possible olfaction-mediated pair formation in two species of Carcharhinid sharks. Copeia 1978:539–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ketchum JT, Hearn A, Klimley AP et al (2014a) Inter-island movements of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) and seasonal connectivity in a marine protected area of the eastern tropical Pacific. Mar Biol 161:939–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ketchum JT, Hearn A, Klimley AP et al (2014b) Seasonal changes in movements and habitat preferences of the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) while refuging near an oceanic island. Mar Biol 161:755–767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Klimley AP (1980) Observations of courtship and copulation in the nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum. Copeia 1980:878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Klimley AP (1985) Schooling in Sphyrna lewini, a species with low risk of predation: a non-egalitarian state. Z Für Tierpsychol 70:297–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Klimley AP (1987) The determinants of sexual segregation in the scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini. Environ Biol Fish 18:27–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Klimley AP, Nelson DR (1984) Diel movement patterns of the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) in relation to el Bajo Espiritu Santo: a refuging central-position social system. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 15:45–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mann T (1960) Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) in the male reproductive tract of the spiny dogfish. Nature 188(4754):941–942CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Quintanilla S, Gómez A, Mariño-Ramírez C et al (2015) Conservation genetics of the scalloped hammerhead shark in the Pacific coast of Colombia. J Hered 106:448–458CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Robles YA, Montes LA, Vega AJ (2015) Caracterización de la captura de tiburones por la pesca artesanal en los manglares de David, Golfo de Chiriqui, Pacifico de Panamá. Tecnociencia 17:11–30Google Scholar
  20. Salinas-de-León P, Acuña-Marrero D, Rastoin E et al (2016) Largest global shark biomass found in the northern Galapagos Islands of Darwin and wolf. PeerJ 4:e1911CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Soler GA, Bessudo S, Guzmán A (2013) Long term monitoring of pelagic fishes at Malpleo Island, Colombia. Rev Latinoam Conserv 3:28–37Google Scholar
  22. Tricas T, Le Feuvre E (1985) Mating in the reef white-tip shark, Triaenodon obesus. Mar Biol 84:233–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. White ER, Myers MC, Flemming JM, Baum JK (2015) Shifting elasmobranch community assemblage at Cocos Island-an isolated marine protected area: elasmobranch community shifts. Conserv Biol 29(4):1186–1197CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Whitney NM, Pratt HL, Carrier JC (2004) Group courtship, mating behaviour and siphon sac function in the whitetip reef shark, Triaenodon obesus. Anim Behav 68:1435–1442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Zanella I, López-Garro A (2015) Abundancia, reproducción y tallas del tiburón martillo Sphyrna lewini (Carcharhiniformes: Sphyrnidae) en la pesca artesanal de Golfo Dulce, Pacífico de Costa Rica. Rev Biol Trop 63:307–317Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Salinas-de-León
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • E. M. Hoyos-Padilla
    • 4
    • 5
  • F. Pochet
    • 6
  1. 1.Charles Darwin Research StationGalapagos IslandsEcuador
  2. 2.Galapagos Marine Research and Exploration (GMaRE), CDF-ESPOL Research ProgramCharles Darwin Research StationSanta CruzEcuador
  3. 3.Pristine SeasNational Geographic SocietyWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Pelagios KakunjáLa PazMexico
  5. 5.Fins AttachedMarine Research and ConservationColorado SpringsUSA
  6. 6.Undersea Hunter GroupSan JoseCosta Rica

Personalised recommendations