Maunalua Bay at East Oahu fronts a large residential community. Every day, the bay is a water playground where residents and vacationers can enjoy jetskiing, parasailing, scuba ping, powerboat rides and other activities. There was a planned shark invasion and a lot of residents are fighting it.
A North Shore operation, using Plexiglas and bars on a metal cage, wanted to take willing amateur explorers underwater to literally get next to the scary creatures. The North Shore operation is very successful – so much so that the owner wanted to take it to Maunalua Bay, or actually outside the bay three miles out. Because of East Oahu’s population and the use of the water, many felt that three miles out from Maunalua Bay is different from being three miles out from the North Shore.
The owner of the activity says he focuses on shark conservation and educates patrons on why sharks are needed to maintain a balance of the ocean’s ecosystem. The North Shore tours take advantage of an already established population of Galapagos and sandbar sharks, relatively harmless species that are attracted to boats recovering crab traps. Commercial fishermen for decades have set up crab traps attracting an already established population of Galapagos and sandbar sharks, which are relatively harmless. The sharks habituate to the noise of the boats and congregate near the vessels as fishermen empty their traps of old bait.
Experts consulted by the East Oahu resistance are concerned by the amount of chum (fish bait) the South Shore operation would need. The seas off Maunalua Bay have never had a natural concentration of sharks, and in the area south of Maunalua Bay, attracting sharks would require a concentrated blood trail that could attract larger species of sharks such as tigers and possibly white sharks.
Three miles offshore, which is three miles outside of the state’s jurisdiction, and the proposed East Oahu operation had its supporters because the activity would generate income and jobs from use of the ocean that doesn’t involve killing things or harvesting animals.
The operator says there is no evidence that sharks visiting the existing North Shore tour site are coming close to shore, but grants that the situation could differ from one site to the next.
Hooray for the residents of East Hawaii. Because of their clamor, the owner of the operation has decided to back off and has cancelled his plans.