This clever kite was being flown over the Ocean Beach jetty along with several others on an evening in December. The life-size creature hovered over beachgoers, but there was little to be concerned about.
Hammerheads eat a large range of prey including fish, other sharks, squid, octopus and crustaceans. They particularly love stingrays, so they would have enjoyed the hundreds of them who settled in shallow local water this summer, stinging hundreds of swimmers. Only 17 documented, unprovoked attacks by hammerheads have been recorded since 1580 with no fatalities.
Their flattened and laterally extended heads form a "hammer" shape called a cephalofoil.
Many people in Hawaii believe sharks are gods of the sea, protectors of humans, cleaners of excessive ocean life and even family members who died and have reincarnated into shark form. The Hawaiians call hammerheads "mano kihikihi," and think of them as the birth animal of some children. These children are seen as future warriors meant to sail the oceans.
In 2013, hammerheads along with oceanic white tip and porbeagle sharks were added to Appendix II of CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered animals and plants. Hammerheads are listed as "decreasing," vulnerable and critically endangered.
With shark fins prized as a delicacy in China and other Asian countries, overfishing is putting hammerheads at risk of extinction. It is common for fishermen to cut off the fins before throwing the shark back into the sea to die.
Fortunately, this kite will live to fly many more times.