A couple of fishermen got a real-life Jaws experience Thursday when, what’s suspected to be a great white, circled their boat for more than an hour. They luckily left the Kaena Point fishing spot unscathed, but they didn’t leave empty-handed. In addition to the 300-pound Marlin they caught prior to the shark encounter, the two men brought back seven minutes of nail-biting (and entertaining) video footage of Mr. Jaws, himself. It’s already got more than 9,400 hits in less than 24 hours and is going viral on the web as I blog.VIDEO: YouTube video of two Hawaii fishermen getting up close to a great white.

WARNING: Video contains some foul language.

Shark (mano, in Hawaiian) sightings aren’t uncommon in Hawaii, but when someone sees a great white, it’s immediately the talk of the town. Some say, the first-ever documented footage of a great white in Hawaii happened almost seven years ago by a boat captain named Jimmy Hall. In this recent video from Jan. 12, boat captain Dominick Gaballo and his best friend Addison Toki are just two local guys, enjoying a beautiful, windless day on their boat along Oahu’s west side. It’s apparent in the beginning of the video that they’re still not quite over their stoke in catching that huge Marlin. That’s when the gray dorsal of the great white appears in the background, lurking in the fresh scent of the fish’s blood. The shark swims around the boat and gets pretty close to the motor, but it never touches the boat.

Great whites are known for their beastly size, growing up to 20 feet long and weighing as much as 5,000 pounds. It’s common to see great whites in the coastal waters of California, South Africa, Florida, Alaska and Mexico; however, no one knows why they make the trek over to Hawaii. The size and shape of the shark’s dorsal fin in the Kaena Point video lead people to believe that it truly was a great white. One person even commented (or teased) that this particular great white lives in the area and comes around often.

Hawaiian waters are full of marine life.

The movie Jaws made these guys pretty famous in Hollywood, portraying them as ferocious man eaters and even featuring them in an amusement park ride. But in actuality, great whites would choose a seal or sea lion over a human, any day. Researchers believe that many of the “attacks” by this shark happened out of pure curiosity. We all know that curiosity killed the cat, well, perhaps that train of thought has also prompted researchers in saying: Great whites are far more threatened by humans than we are by them.

The great white’s most recently documented appearance in Hawaii probably wouldn’t have been as popular if it weren’t for the narration we hear in the background. It’s almost as raw and uncut as the shark’s seven-minute video cameo. Straight sailor talk throughout, but it’s the jokes and the Pidgin-English he spoke that had me chuckling here and there. At the end, the cameraman says something like, “If I wasn’t tired, I would jump on the buggah’s back, but ah, maybe next time!”

Hopefully it will be a while before there’s a “next time.” Until then, the two documented videos of great whites in Hawaii will give researchers something to work with when studying arguably one of nature’s greatest predators.

Sources: MarineBio Conservation Society, YouTube


  1. This is spot on! You are so correct about this. What people must remember is in Hawai’i sharks are sakred. In that moment of awe it’s easy to dream up thoughts of Jaws. However, they are very special in Native Hawaiian culture. Sharks are ‘aumakua. Ancestors, family protector, diety-like, an ancestral god. In Christianity or haole beliefs we often talk about “it’s a sign” or “grandma is with the angels now” this is what you could compare to understand ‘aumakua.

    Mary Kawena Pukui, a revered scholar of Hawaiian culture, once wrote… “As gods and relatives in one, they give us strength when we are weak, warning when danger threatens, guidance in our bewilderment, inspiration in our arts. They are equally our judges, hearing our words and watching our actions, reprimanding us for error and punishing us for blatant offense.”

    An ‘aumakua is not just a shark but for Native Hawaiians it an take on any form of animal sich as an owl, Hawaiian sea turtle, dolphin etc. It has been said in old Hawaiian stories that canoe paddlers who were lost or in danger were guided by their ‘aumakua to safety.

    One word that explains this… Awesome! Just awesome!
    Mahalo for sharing this wonderful blog!

  2. Mahalo nui, @AngelaKeen! Thanks for sharing some mana‘o from Aunty Mary Kawena Puku’i. What a wonderful quote! You are right on when you explained the Hawaiian ‘aumakua.

    My family’s Hawaiian ancestry traces back to the Halemano ‘ohana. Halemano literally means “House of the Shark.” Our uncle told us that makes the mano (shark) one of our ‘aumakua. I’m thankful because there are times when we’re surfing in some pretty deep blue waters…which makes me wonder what’s lurking below! But when I’m reminded of my ‘aumakua, I’m at ease. Mahalo for reading and for your insightful comment.

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