What Shark Species Are in Hawaii?

If you’re heading to Hawaii and are wondering if there are sharks in the waters, you’re not alone. Many people are curious about what types of sharks can be found near the islands. While it’s true that sharks can be found in Hawaii, it’s important to remember that they are not typically a threat to humans. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the sharks that can be found in Hawaii.

sharks in hawaii

Different types of sharks in Hawaii

Shark species in Hawaii include the Galapagos sharks, Sandbar sharks, Tiger sharks, and White-Tip reef sharks. 

The Galapagos sharks are larger sharks that can reach up to 8 feet in length and weigh over 500 pounds. They are usually found in deeper waters near the bottom of the ocean. Sandbar sharks are more common and can be spotted near the shorelines of the islands. These sharks have wide flat heads and long pointed fins which help them easily swim around shallow areas with ease.

Tiger sharks are also seen in Hawaiian waters but not as frequently as other shark species. They tend to stick to deep waters, where they prefer to hunt for food like fish and crustaceans. Lastly, White-tip reef sharks can be found near the coral reefs. These sharks are usually smaller but can reach up to 4 feet in length and are typically a grayish-brown color.

tiger shark

One of the most fascinating sharks is the Hammerhead Shark. Mature scalloped hammerheads tend to dwell in deeper waters and come into shallower areas for birthing. In Hawaii, some of these pup grounds include Hilo Bay, Kāne’ohe Bay and Waimea Bay – just a few examples!

Whitetip and Blacktip reef sharks can be spotted near shallow Hawaiian reefs.

Unlike many rumors, Bull Sharks haven’t been reported in Hawaiian waters.

Interactions between sharks and humans

Hawaii is home to many sharks, however, it’s important to remember that sharks rarely interact with humans. Despite their presence, shark attacks are extremely rare in Hawaii, as sharks generally do not view people as prey items or potential threats. Additionally, most of the sharks found around Hawaii tend to keep away from areas where people swim or surf due to human activities like boat traffic and fishing lines, which may scare them off. Therefore, it is safe for swimmers and other recreational activities in Hawaiian waters so long as they follow proper safety protocols such as avoiding swimming at night and not swimming too far away from shore.

Diving with sharks in Hawaii

I personally saw my first ever shark while scuba diving on Maui at Mala Ramp. A majestic white-tip reef shark cruised through the pier ruins.

If you are lucky, you can find sharks during your scuba dive trip. Some dive sites may have misleading names, such as shark’s cove, where there used to be many sharks, but not anymore.

Although sharks are generally harmless, some people are still interested in seeing sharks up close. Luckily, Hawaii is home to a variety of sharks, and diving with them can be an exciting experience. Certified divers can join shark cage dives or free dives with sharks, depending on the tour operator and the type of sharks found around the area.

Shark accidents in Hawaii

Hawaii has had many reported shark accidents in the last two decades. Luckily, most of them are non-fatal. However, unfortunately, there are three reported fatal shark attacks since 2010.

  • 2013: other shark (unknown)
  • 2015: other shark (unknown)
  • 2020: Tiger shark

Most identified non-fatal accidents occur from Tiger sharks. Only a few from White Tip sharks. White tips have sometimes a dangerous reputation because of attacks in the Red Sea. In Hawaii, the Oceanic White-Tip shark reports only one non-fatal attack.

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