HONOLULU (KHON2) — A huge great white shark snatched an ahi from a fisherman’s reel about 15 miles off Waikiki on Saturday.
Nick Morris told KHON2 he’s been fishing for decades, and Saturday was no different until a large shadow appeared.
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“We had an ahi on the line, and it literally came up towards the boat, and as it came up to the boat, I saw a shadow come from the side, and I had the fishing line in my hand, see how my hand is all cut up,” he said while showing the mark the fishing line left on his knuckles and palm.
The shark took the ahi about 30 to 40 feet down in mere seconds, Morris let go of the line and then pulled it back up to see what was left.
“The whole thing was gone, the whole line was all chopped from the very top, so I know he got it,” Morris said.
About five minutes later, the shark came back towards the boat.
“I seen big sharks but not that big, like two weeks ago, we had a 12-foot shark eat one of our fish next to the boat, but it’s normal,” he explained.
Morris’ boat is about 27 feet long, he believes this shark was 17 to 19 feet.
“It was wide, I was telling my friend whatever happens, do not fall in because he just ate a 100-pound ahi no problem at all, and he still came back he probably wants more,” Morris said.
He said it’s the second time he’s encountered a great white shark, also known as a white shark, in Hawaii waters.
KHON2 showed the footage of the incident to shark expert Dr. Carl Meyer from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.
At first, Dr. Meyer couldn’t identify whether it was a tiger shark, whale shark, or white shark.
KHON2 explained the story Morris told and sent him an additional video that Morris sent from the boat. Dr. Meyer slowed the video down and looked frame by frame to identify what it was.
“When it swims across the back of the boat, I can look and I can see where the pectoral fins start on the body,” said Dr. Meyer. “And basically if you look at a photo or drawing of a tiger shark versus a white shark, you’ll see on a white shark they’re just further back from the nose than they are on a tiger shark — and you can see that quite well.”
Dr. Meyer also said, “the other thing is by looking very, very carefully I could see the snout is somewhat pointed and you put those pieces together and it really can’t be anything else.”
He said a whale shark wouldn’t eat a fish, and the pointed snout meant one thing, it was a huge white shark.
Dr. Meyer said there are sightings of white sharks all year round across Hawaii, with higher frequencies during the winter months. But experts aren’t too sure why that is.
“We know that white sharks have been visiting Hawaii waters as long as people have been here at least because you can go to Bishop Museum and see native Hawaiian artifacts with white shark teeth incorporated in them,” Dr. Meyer said. “We don’t typically see small ones here; we see larger adult white sharks.”
He said they’re not common like a tiger shark, “I would say they are routinely present in our waters but at low numbers.”
He said white sharks are more likely to be seen in offshore waters, but they’ve been seen near shore too.
In his years of studying sharks, Dr. Meyer said he’s only encounter one white shark about three miles off Kaneohe.
Morris said his other white shark encounter was off Waianae in West Oahu.
In November 2021, an underwater photographer got extremely close to a huge female white shark who was casually passing through.
“They seem to occupy a space while they’re here that’s a little further offshore than tiger sharks are using for the most part but there’s a big overlap between the two species in terms of their space use,” Dr. Meyer said.
“We’re not sure why they are making these long migrations down to Hawaii,” he continued.
But if you ever see one, enjoy the moment, because you might not see one again.
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“For whatever reason it’s very hard to go out with the intent to find one and actually find one,” Dr. Meyer said. “They are very, very elusive animals when they are in our waters.”