Hammerheads. Kurkap Island, Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.
Hammerheads. Kurkap Island, Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.

They make me hammer


Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

  Indonesia: Banda + Raja Ampat - October 2015

Hammerhead sharks make fantasies for diving fans. These sharks have mouths, it must be said. I met them (again) during a fabulous cruise in Indonesia.

The year of the hammers

In July 2015, I had glimpsed them - furtively - during a dive south of Lombok, the neighboring island of Bali, at the famous site called The Magnet.

Three months later, I had the chance to cross hammerhead sharks again, in Indonesia (again), on a diving cruise aboard Wow, in the east of the archipelago, in Banda Sea. This time, the show is less stealthy!

Hammerhead shark bank. Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.
Hammerhead shark bank. Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.
Hammerheads. Kurkap Island, Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.
Hammerheads. Kurkap Island, Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.

This year 2015 is definitely the year of the hammers, in my little diving life ...

Waow burningUpdated 2018. The Waow, this magnificent dive-cruise boat aboard which I had the chance to embark on in 2015, no longer exists ... 😢 He unfortunately burned and sank, in Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia, at night January 31 to February 1, 2018. I refer you to the message posted on their Facebook page and on their site.

That said, question underwater photos, I'm not spoiled: at each of our outputs "hammers", from the archipelago of Banda to the island of Kurkap, the visi is rather rotten and my autofocus skates, unable to handle the focus in this water loaded ...

The Waow route for this cruise, from Ambon to Sorong.
The Waow route for this cruise, from Ambon to Sorong.

(For non-divers: the "visibility" under water can be very changeable and vary from a few meters to more than 25m, from one site to another, from one day to another, sometimes even from one hour to another, depending on the particles and plankton in suspension, related to currents, tides, weather, etc.). Sharks are only seen at the very last moment, they seem to emerge from the greenish blue "fog" of the water.

So, I have not managed to make a single photo of hammerhead sharks ... I must admit that Indonesian waters are probably not the most suitable for photographing these animals - and I was blown by promising names like Galapagos, Cocos Island, Bahamas ... So many destinations to register on my "bucket list" diver!

In short, the only images that I have to offer you are actually screenshots, from the film made by the videographer of the Wow, Steffan Kilbywho managed to get closer to them than me. With his permission, I give you an excerpt below.

Face-to-face with the sharks

I have fond memories of my first real face-to-face encounter with a big hammer at the Karang Hatta site in the Banda archipelago at the start of the cruise. He appeared in the middle of the blue boiling water, right in my line of sight, but spun at once without asking for his rest. No time to shoot him ... Frustrating.

After the dive, Refly, guide on the Wow, offers itself well as a model of substitution. But, how to say ... It's a lot less impressive. : lol:

One of our guides, Refly, disguised as a hammerhead shark ...: D
One of our guides, Refly, disguised as a hammerhead shark ...
Do you know the sign of divers to report hammers?
Do you know the sign of divers to report hammers?

Many times, during our various dives in Banda Sea, we will encounter hammers. But you have to get away from the reef and go palmer in the "blue" to hope to see them ... Sharks patrol nearby, in number. But the weight of my bulky cameraI do not pad fast enough and scuba divers are often luckier than me to see a hammer bank in the distance.

The most polished among us manage to get close enough, especially around Kurkap, a small isolated island of Moluccas, between Banda Sea and Sea of Seram.

Hammerheads. Kurkap Island, Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.
Hammerheads. Kurkap Island, Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.

As for me, the only time I find myself really close to a hammer, at a distance finally making a potentially fabulous image is ... just 5m from the surface, at the end of the dive, at the landing! Unbelievable…

It was in the Banda archipelago, at the Karang Hatta site again, where we dive several times in a row. A very big shark suddenly burst in front of us, really when we least expected it.

Surprised, I widen the eyes behind my mask, understanding that it is indeed a hammer, again: I quickly distinguish the flattened jaws, I see the left eye that eyeing me, a massive body, powerful, d an almost coppery gray, the lateral movement of a long tapered tail ... The whole scrolls to 3-4 meters from me ... Waooooow! ! ! 😮

A large shark shark, intimidated, away from divers ... Moluccas, Indonesia, October 2015.
A large shark shark, intimidated, away from divers ... Moluccas, Indonesia, October 2015.

The time to turn the camera, to try a focus, to start the video mode, the beast is already more than a vague shadow of shark in the bluish fog ...

But I'm still amazed. This kind of meeting is both impressive and magical. See evolving so closely, even a short time, such animal, it's worth all the reports of National Geographic ! The hammers really delighted our first dives.

Return of the divers aboard the Waow. Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.
Return of the divers aboard the Waow. Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.

Sharks and men

My non-divers do not really understand the crazy excitement that catches me in the midst of these animals.

When I return from Indonesia, I have to explain to a colleague, a little taken aback by my enthusiasm, that no, it is not dangerous. That the sharks are not bloodthirsty animals who throw themselves like furious molosses on every human being close to them. That on the contrary, in scuba-diving, it is often difficult to approach them, because they are rather frightened in front of a palanquée continually releasing strings of bubbles noisy and scintillating. I can see that what I say surprises him.

→ See: all my shark articles

Hammerheads. Kurkap Island, Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.
Hammerhead sharks near Kurkap. Maluku, Indonesia, October 2015.

My sister was convinced, most seriously in the world, that a shark facing a man almost inevitably attacked him. And I, naively, thought that everyone had understood - since the time - that Spielberg's film, Jaws (1975), was fiction.

But no. Most people are unaware of the actual behavior of sharks. And the spirits remain marked by the terrible facts of surfers and swimmers bitten by sharks, as in the meeting or in Australia. These dramas are fortunately very rare and sharks kill much less than mosquitoes, crocodiles, bees or snakes. But the sea is a wild environment, impossible to domesticate. There will always be areas and certain conditions that pose a risk for bathers and surfers.

My green minute

As a result, sharks are not about to inspire as many good feelings as baby seals, even though they are victims of hallucinating overfishing - mainly for their fins, allegedly aphrodisiacs, which end up in soup in Asia and are traded profitably.

We do not realize it, we are earthly, but these marine super-predators are essential to the balance of the ocean ecosystem. Himself vital to the planet. If they disappear, we are bad.

Nala Cat and her shark cap. More than 2.5 million subscribers on Instagram ...
Nala Cat and her shark cap. More than 2.5 million subscribers on Instagram ...

I know that between a shark and a cute cat, people will always prefer a cute cat ...

But I prefer the shark not cute, alive and big as possible, a sign that he has managed to reach a certain maturity that will allow him to reproduce.

One thing is certain, when there are no more sharks in the oceans, it will be the beginning of the end. Beans, cute cats and humans.

In short, I am very happy to have crossed as many, sharks, during this cruise aboard the Wow. It comforts. In addition to the hammers, we met classic black tip sharks, one or two fox sharks with their huge whip-tails and, in the Raja Ampat archipelago, a lot of carp sharks or wobbegongs and even a shy bamboo shark "walker" ... What hope.

Bamboo shark "walker".
Bamboo shark "walker".
Wobbegong, or "bearded carpet shark".
Wobbegong, or "bearded carpet shark".


I was the guest of Wow from October 27 to November 8, 2015, for this diving cruise called "Secrets of Seram". All opinions expressed here remain 100% mine. 

  Indonesia: Banda + Raja Ampat - October 2015

  1. Hello Corinne
    As Claude François said:
    "If I had a hammer
    I'll take a picture of it ... "
    Too bad you could not bring us clichés of this fascinating animal. You must be very disappointed 😡
    Like you, I share a passion for these animals, and I am always amazed at the reaction that provokes when we tell our dives. To hear our entourage, we are limited good for asylum ...
    So thank you for your article. Hope it will help to rehabilitate a little these beautiful animals still too often victims of crime facies. There are 100 million sharks killed every year around the world 🙁

    1. @Gilles: no, I'm not disappointed, it was not my primary goal to photograph hammers during this cruise in Indonesia, I know that at sea nothing is ever guaranteed, and am already amazed to have crossed under the water ... If I want to make interesting and somewhat spectacular hammer photos, it will probably not be in Indonesian waters, I will have to dive rather on these famous sites that I evoke in the article, where it is easy to approach them very closely, in ideal conditions of light and visibility ...

      Indeed, it is not easy to ravage the sharks and defend the cause of sharks, without going for a baba-cool oceans, an illuminated underwater ... 😆 Yet, overfishing (and not only sharks) is a reality, very disturbing. We are emptying the seas of their fish, it is not a sight of the mind ... I tell myself that this modest blog post may manage to raise awareness some people anyway.

    1. @Remi: at sea, nothing is ever predictable or guaranteed, as far as encounters with wild animals are concerned ... There are no famous "hammer" spots to my knowledge near Gam or the surrounding islands, but imagine that it has already happened to lucky divers to see in the waters of Raja Ampat, occasionally ... In the area, it is however quite common to observe large ocean mantas.

  2. Hello Corinne,
    Always so much pleasure to read you and admire your photos.
    Totally agree with you.
    Seeing a shark is always a fascinating moment.
    Moreover when they approach us it is simply that they are curious to see these funny fish with large eyes prominent and in addition make bubbles ... .. !!! Ah, look exchange ... .. !!!
    Never had a hint of fear, just wonder.
    We are on our way to Raja Ampat where we will spend 15 days.
    Sharks we will see.
    Sighting a hammer would also be an unforgettable moment just like the ocean mantas we have never seen before.
    You made us dream with your mantas festival in video of the beginning of the year.
    Thank you for your good advice
    Alain & Yolande

    1. @Alain & Yolande: Thank you for your message and your shared amazement ... I cross my fingers so that you come across hammers and mantas. In Raja Ampat, it seems that they are now more rare on the spot (too famous, too famous and now too busy) of Manta Sandy ... But with a little luck (and if we are in small committee under water ), we sometimes see them tumble on other sites (as was my case early 2015 at Blue Magic). Magical and unforgettable, yes ... Good bubbles !!!! 🙄

  3. Hammerhead sharks continue to be exploited outrageously for their fins in Indonesia, as shown in a recent article by Andrianus Sembiring in Fisheries Research.

    It is beautiful to see this carelessness to do tourism in the Moluccas, knowing that this region was in the years 1999-2002 the theater of massacres organized by the Indonesian army and its Islamist militias, the "Laskar Jihad". There were thousands of deaths and mourning of the Moluccans persists to this day. In 2016, there are dozens of Moluquois political prisoners languishing in the infamous jails of the Indonesian Islamic-fascist regime.

    1. @Silvio: altogether, sharks (and not only hammers) unfortunately continue to be heavily fished for their fins in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia ... And, yes, the recent (and ancient) history of the Moluccas is bloody. The sinister reputation of the Indonesian army is well established, it has committed many massacres, Maluku as in other regions (Papua, Timor ...) and continues to repress, imprison, kill. A violence that contrasts with the carelessness of this blog dedicated to travel and scuba diving.

    2. Correct, Corinne. Among the most researched species for fins, there are several species of guitar rays (Rhynchobatus spp.
      least an endemic to the Coral Triangle and whose extinction is imminent. The countries of the Coral Triangle have a special responsibility for the conservation of endemic species in the region. It is in this capacity that they have received significant aid from donor countries under the Coral Triangle Initiative or CTI. In Indonesia, this money is diverted to build "research centers" without any researcher and to finance unnecessary meetings in luxury hotels. No measures are taken for the protection of species, that the generation of our children will have no chance to see in diving. They will have the photos, as well as some dry or formal specimens in dusty old museums.

  4. Corinne, I discovered this article with a little delay following research on Ambon / Banda (like what !!), but I can not resist the pleasure of making you discover a video in case you have not seen it 🙄

    1. @Alimata: it's nice to find a little message from you !!! Yes, you think I saw her ... Thank you for posting it here. He makes images of madness, this Nu Parnupong, a Thai who works as a videographer on cruises White / Black / Blue Manta ... (I am regularly on the networks, since my first cruise at R4 in 2012 with the Black Manta.)
      Do you dream of diving there in the Banda Sea, then?

    2. Yes, this year we returned to Sipadan, but we were a little disappointed by the absence of the "Massive school of barrucudaes" and the presence of a "Massive school of chinese" 😀
      NB: The turtles are still there 8)

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