The great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran, is an understudied shark species mainly due to its cryptic and migratory nature. However, studies suggest that the species is globally subject to a variety of anthropogenic stressors. It is both a targeted and a by-catch species in both inshore and offshore fisheries, by industrial and artisanal fisheries. Due to their large size and high cartilage fiber content, common to all hammerhead sharks, Great Hammerhead fins are highly valued on shark fin markets, contributing significantly to the decline of the species. This high mortality rate, combined with their late sexual maturity and the fact that females breed only once every two years, increases the risk of extinction of the species which has no time to regenerate. It's thus no surprise that its proven vulnerability to human activities and the alarming evidence of the global decline of the great hammerhead populations, has led to its official listing on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Since 2018, the species has been assessed as 'Critically Endangered'.
The great hammerhead shark is present in Polynesian waters and particularly in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Despite being a protected species in French Polynesia, S. mokarran remains vulnerable in international and foreign waters. Determining the origin of these individuals and their migratory routes will eventually make it possible to initiate protocols to prevent the extinction of this animal.
In an effort to contribute to our knowledge about this majestic species, and above all to its protection, Blancpain supports the Mokarran Protection Society, a newly established Polynesian environmental association dedicated to the study of the great hammerhead shark. The inaugural mission took place in January 2020 and was intended to observe the behaviour of the large predator in the wild in order to identify and count its population. On this occasion, Blancpain President & CEO Marc A. Hayek travelled to Rangiroa to participate as a volunteer underwater videographer.
© Banner photo: Thomas Pavy