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Scuba Diving in Hawaii with Sharks

Sharks in Hawaii

We get this question all the time. "Are there any sharks where we will be diving?" The truthful answer is yes there are sharks. In all honestly you most likely will not see sharks right away. Here is why. Sharks in Hawaii are extremely shy when it comes to scuba divers. Most sharks in Hawaii would rather avoid you at all costs. You must understand that sharks brains are not wired to incorporate eating human beings. ( sound of the scuba bubbles also play an important reason why sharks in stay clear of divers) Furthermore when scuba diving around sharks I have personally noticed how sensitive the sharks are to the sound of of scuba units- that is the sound of the bubbles when you exhale. I have seen numerous times sharks actually turn the other way once I exhale. As an underwater photographer while diving in Hawaii it is important to breath slowly to maximize your underwater experience but the most important reason why is to not scare off the marine life- sharks. Once you fully exhale the sharks will leave. Be nice to hold your breath for 30 minutes. So what do you do? Well just breath breath slowly or use what is called a rebreather for the best underwater scuba diving picture session results. Rebreathers are able to reuse the oxygen left unused in each exhaled breath while they simultaneously remove C02 with a chemical which "traps" the C02. The result is greatly extended dive with relatively small tanks. But the best part of a rebreather is the fact that hardly any bubbles are produced. Great for underwater photographers. Honestly speaking, rebreathers are expensive. About $5000 plus, so lets just stick with a typical scuba diving set up, the traditional type.

So what kinds of sharks might we see when diving in Hawaii ? Wait, better yet what kinds of sharks can we see in Oahu ? The shark that is mostly seen in Oahu and I think I can speak for the rest of the Hawaiian islands is the whitetip reef shark. The white tip reef sharks are commonly seen around the islands of Hawaii. Mostly during the day these reef sharks find a nice dark cave, shipwreck, wreck or crevice and sleep. Saving their energy for the evening hunt. So while we are diving I am always looking underneath reef ledges and into small caves so we can introduce of scuba diving guests to these amazing animals. Whitetip reef sharks will not attack scuba divers. I think you would have to physically hold a whitetip reef shark down then stick your hands in their mouths to get bit. This is not to say whitetip reef sharks are not dangerous. At night whitetip reef sharks hunt in packs and are the reef's most extreme hunting machines. Preferring to scare small fishes and octopus out of their sleeping holes on the reefs.

Galapagos sharks are too commonly seen in the waters of Hawaii. These sharks are seldom seen in shallow reef areas of Oahu and tend to prefer deeper waters. I have seen Galapagos sharks in 50 feet of water on a few reefs but the majority of the time we see these sharks on wall and deep dives. (Galapagos sharks do resemble gray reef sharks so my sighting could have been a gray.)Sure these sharks can be dangerous weighing in up to 400 pounds. There have been attacks on people but not scuba divers. Honestly I have never heard about this shark attacking people but from other friends and dive friends I have heard these sharks can be dangerous. Again, theses sharks too tend to stay away from scuba divers. Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, we've all seen them and love their unique shape. Hammerhead sharks can get pretty big too. Some species can actually grow up to 20 feet. It is highly unlikely you will encounter a hammerhead shark on the reefs in Oahu. Although hammerhead sharks do breed and call the Hawaiian archipelago their home scuba divers don't really get to see these mysterious sharks often. I personally had the rare opportunity to see a rather large hammerhead once. Believe it or not it was at Turtle Canyons Waikiki in a depth of 30 feet."So Erik where is the pictures?" Well believe it or not I couldn't get a good pictures because the shark was moving so fast and the visibility was not the best that day so my camera at the time couldn't focus on the shark well. Really that is the truth...stop it !

What about tiger sharks? Yes tiger sharks in Hawaii can be dangerous. As a matter of fact they are dangerous...in certain settings and circumstances of course. The bad boy tiger sharks are very big and can grow up to 20 feet in length and weight over a thousand pounds. Most of the tiger sharks we see in Hawaii are juveniles that are around 6 to 8 feet. The picture you see is of a juvenile tiger shark, very predominant stripes and if you look closely you can see a fishing line and hook in his mouth was taken at Turtle Canyons in 30 feet of water. Encounters we had with tiger sharks were very fun leaving the customer to question, "Are these sharks really dangerous ?" Due to the fact that once the tiger sharks seen us it immediately swam in the opposite direction. Every single time. I feel extremely comfortable if not more curious about tiger sharks than any other shark in the waters of Hawaii. Chance of seeing a tiger shark in Hawaii ? I'd say not likely, I see tiger sharks about once every 2 months or so. Occasionally people get the rare opportunity to see tiger sharks feeding on dead turtles from the boat.

Sandbar sharks in Hawaii. These sharks are pretty cool. Mostly small around 4 to 6 feet these interesting sharks with their pointy dorsal fin tend to stay in deep water. I have never seen these sharks in shallow water, reefs or wrecks. There are places on the North Shore, primarily where the shark tours and shark feeding goes on where you can see the sandbar shark. We have on a bunch of occasions went out to these areas, a few mile out and jumped into the water. These sharks at first are curious and will approach you, then they realize that there isn't not any food. They seem to associate boat engines with food. But then again, once theses sharks realized we had no food they just went away. When diving in Hawaii people must understand how important sharks' role plays on the reefs. Sharks are responsible for keeping the reef clean. In other words, sharks eat the sick and dying fish. Simple logic says if you take the sharks away there will be a sick reef which will have a trickle- down effect to even us, since we do eat fish. Without the sharks Mother Nature would not be able to survive. Sure there are other species of sharks that are found in Oahu and the Hawaiian archipelago but I really am getting bored of typing. Sharks are one of the neatest fish on the reefs, if you are lucky enough to see a shark while diving with Oahu Diving consider that a privilege- you will never forget it. If you have any questions or comments please let us know. We would love to hear from you.

Thanks for visiting Oahu Diving of Hawaii. Sharks in Hawaii, scuba diving Oahu, diving boat charters and scuba courses in Honolulu, Hawaii. Shark encounters in Hawaii are a great part of scuba diving in Hawaii.