In this stunning clip from Mission Galapagos, biologist and presenter Liz Bonnin goes scuba diving with scientists who are studying the complex mating rituals of scalloped hammerhead sharks at Darwin’s Arch in the Galápagos Islands. As they observe from the ocean floor, a school of around 600 scalloped hammerhead sharks appears. Bonnin explains:
The hammerheads come from all different directions and gather, swim around each other in big circles in a wonderful sort of balletic association. At the very centre of this big mass of hammerheads are the oldest, most mature females. The younger sharks swim around them. When the males come in to mate, they’ve got to weave and wind their way through this mass of hammerheads, so only the strongest, fittest males will get to mate with the females in the centre.
We are only just beginning to understand the purpose of this mass congregation, so the more scientists dive down there, the more they’re understanding its importance. It’s a very special place, and a very important behaviour, that needs to be protected. The Galapagos is one of the last jewels of this blue planet of ours… It was extraordinary.