HONOLULU (KHON2) — In the last 72 hours, there have been several shark sightings statewide, most very close to shore.
Even shark tour companies that see the majority of Galapagos sharks on a daily basis have been reporting more tiger sharks stopping by.
“We’ve recently seen three different individual tiger sharks in the last week,” said Danny Lomas who works with Hawaii Adventure Diving on Oahu’s North Shore. “So, there definitely seems to be higher numbers now, higher amounts of curiosity.”
He said that could be seen as a good thing, meaning a healthy marine ecosystem.
According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources website, there have been four shark incidents in 2023, one happening in early April at Kewalos, where surfer Mike Morita was bitten and lost his leg after the incident.
According to the state website, since 1980, the majority of shark incidents have occurred in October (approximately 35) and November (roughly 20), with 15 incidents being reported in December, and 15 in the month of April.
“We still know so little about the biology of tiger sharks but it does seem October and November is when mating occurs,” explained Dr. Kim Holland, shark researcher with the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.
Although it may seem like there have been more sightings, experts said there’s no way of knowing if it’s due to more people filming sharks closer to shore, or if there are more sharks in the water.
“One thing we do know is when shark incidents occur, we tend to have more reports of sharks,” Holland said.
If you do encounter a shark in the water experts said get out calmly if you can, and always have a partner in the water with you; if you can’t get out of the water, keep your eye on the shark.
“Most of these attacks, the person isn’t completely consumed,” explained Dr. Holland. “It’s one bite and if that bite is in the wrong place you can go into shock or bleed to death, if you have people around to help that makes a huge difference.”
“There’s some education, and this is anecdotal, but if the animal is aware you’ve spotted it, they tend not to follow through on an attack,” said Dr. Holland.
Experts said its unlikely warm water temperatures are having an impact since temperatures are still at cooler winter levels, but they said sharks swim at water depths that are comfortable for their body temperature.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
“There’s a natural thermocline in the water, as you go down, it gets colder, and then it drastically changes to really cold water, they’ll sit at that line, and kind of use that to moderate their body temperature,” explained Lomas. “So, if that line is pushed up, then the sharks are going to be higher in the water column and more comfortable coming closer to shore where the temperatures are a little bit higher.”