HONOLULU (KHON2) — Josie Herrin shared a video with KHON2 of two sharks mating in Ko Olina. The video was taken on Friday, June 3, in Lagoon 1. Herrin said it’s the first time she’s seen this.
“They swam by the shallows multiple times, and this behavior was probably 30 feet out from the beach,” said Herrin. She added that the water was about two feet deep.
Ocean Safety told KHON2 they did not receive any reports of shark sightings in Ko Olina that day. However, Herrin said the staff at the Aulani and Four Seasons resorts were aware.
“Four Seasons guests were actually able to see it from their rooms,” said Herrin. “Aulani staff did close down their paddleboard operations for a few hours. Both sharks did do a couple of loops very close to shore where anyone standing on the beach was able to see them. Everyone was very excited!”
Herrin shared that she’s four months pregnant and to be able to see this behavior was truly amazing. The sharks were docile when they were swimming nearby.
“It looks like they are mating,” said Dr. Andrew Rossiter, Waikiki Aquarium Director. “The video is not clear enough to see the male’s claspers, but he is biting the female’s pectoral fin to hold her in place and to stop her swimming away.”
He said it’s perfectly normal behavior in sharks, and it appears that the female wants nothing to do with him.
Waikiki Aquarium Curator Tony McEwan added that these are two whitetip reef sharks, and since the male has claspers and no hands, he has to bite the female.
“He is not being very successful in getting his claspers near her genital opening,” said McEwan. “Also she is not looking particularly interested in assisting him, so eventually he lets go and she swims off.”
According to DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, shark mating occurs in January, with ovulation taking places between May and July. Pups are born about 16 months later, peaking in September and October the following year. However, there are some species, including the whitetips, that reproduce year round.
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Most coastal sharks give birth in the summer. Experts say the habitat between the shoreline and 600 feet is ideal for tiger sharks, which are known to like Kahuku Point since there aren’t many people in the water.