Types of Sharks in Hawaii
Sharks in Hawaii have been around for over 400 million years. This predates dinosaurs by over 200 million years! The most common type of sharks on Oahu are the White-tip Reef, Galapagos, Sandbar, Scalloped Hammer-head, and the Tiger. The Galapagos shark and the Tiger shark are the fiercest of the Hawaiian sharks and can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 1500 lbs. They are quite a sight to see on Oahu’s reefs, which are no deeper than 30 feet.
A shark’s typical diet include dolphins, fish, Hawaiian green sea turtles and monk seals. Sharks do most of their hunting at dawn, dusk or in the middle of the night. They have cat-like eyes that help them see their prey in the darkest of waters. In fact, sharks prefer to hunt right before the sun sets, rises or in the middle of the night. The darker water gives them an advantage because they are also able to detect faint electrical fields that their prey emits. This allows sharks to identify their food source without even seeing the prey. That’s why sharks will mistakenly and eat pieces of boat, trash, people and even other sharks.
Shark attacks in Hawaii are very rare. A person has a higher chance of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a shark. With that being said, sharks have been known to mistaken people for their normal food source and take a bit out a surfboard or a surfer’s leg.
Sharks on Oahu are pretty comfortable with scuba divers swimming around them. Experts suggest that the bubbles emit a sound that seems to ward off sharks from thinking divers are their next meal ticket. Surfers, on the contrary, aren’t so lucky. The shape of a surfer above the water’s surface can be reminiscent of a monk seal or fat sea turtle and their erratic splashing creates ripples in the water which eludes a sharks to think that they detect prey struggling above. Combining this with murky waters is a perfect recipe to entice a shark to investigate.
There are many things one can do to avoid being a shark’s potential next meal. Check them out below!
- Steer clear of the water at dusk, dawn and in the middle of the night. This is when sharks like to feed inshore.
- Dodge water that is murky and harbour entrances, especially after heavy rains, as this is where sharks tend to frequently feed.
- When diving, swimming or surfing, stay near a group. Just in case you need help, you don’t want to be alone.
- If you see a turtle or fish behaving erratically, calmly swim away. Sharks are attracted to a lot of splashing and flailing behavior so be calm in the water.
- Be aware of dolphins. They are a favorite source of food for sharks.
- Do not enter the water if you have an open wound or are bleeding in any way. Sharks have a remarkably keen sense of smell for detecting blood and other bodily fluids. So it is best to refrain from emptying your bladder in the water. Sharks have been known to be attracted to that as well.
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