I came across an online forum asking if there are sharks in Waikiki. To my surprise, a few people answered: “No,” when in actuality, sharks roam all ocean waters (as long as it’s deep enough). In the past week, there have been three shark sightings in waters off of the Waikiki to Ala Moana area of Oahu. Ocean safety officials don’t believe it is the same shark but have posted warning signs each times to alert beach-goers.

Posted at Ala Moana Beach Park on Sunday after surfers reported they saw a 10-to12-foot tiger shark.

This story isn’t meant to scare tourists but to inform them that sharks do, in fact, exist in even the most populated of ocean waters. My boyfriend likes to say, “There are bears in the woods; there are sharks in the ocean.” This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your time in the sun and the surf; it just means you have to pay special attention to any signs on the beach or talk to lifeguards if you’re still concerned. Luckily, the sightings didn’t lead to any attacks.

If it’ll make tourists feel better, one of our lifeguard friends told us that shark attacks are pretty rare in these south shore waters. According to the lifeguard, you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than attacked by a shark, but he did warn us not to increase our chances. Shark attacks usually happen in murky or brown waters flowing from river mouths. Sharks also like to go for the straggler or the solitary target, so it’s always recommended to swim with a buddy. If you can follow these few tips, you’ll significantly reduce your chances of catching the interest of a big fish.

Personally, whenever I surf or swim, I try not to think about what’s lurking beneath. If I did, I would not step foot in the ocean, and I’d be missing out on Hawaii. Growing up, I’ve also been told that if you don’t let your fear show in the water, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Who’s to say this is really true, but so far, so good for me! (I’m “knocking on wood” right now to undo any jinx I might have done by writing that!) But what gives me comfort is that my family’s aumakua (family god) is the shark, or mano in Hawaiian, so hopefully I’m protected in that way as well.

I tried my best to adhere to my own advice this weekend, as I surfed near Ala Moana Beach. I heard about the first two shark sightings – one in Waikiki waters near the natatorium, the other near Ala Moana. Fellow surfers in the line-up casually mentioned it, but of course, it’s not always the best conversation over a surf sesh. Little did we know, however, a group of other surfers spotted a third shark a couple breaks over from where we were…around the same time of day!

Call me crazy, but I’ll most likely still surf out there. And I’m sure I’m not the only one with that sentiment; in fact, there’s still large crowds of people surfing what’s left of the south swell as I type. If everyone let their fear of sharks get to them, then we wouldn’t be seeing anyone in the ocean today.

The point is: If you’re still debating on whether or not to jump into our waters after hearing about the shark sightings or seeing the movie Jaws, then you’re probably wasting your time and your money. We all know that trips to Hawaii don’t come cheap, so why ruin your dream vacay being afraid the entire time? Just pay attention to the conditions and the lifeguards, and you’ll just be fine.

Photo Credit: Lindsey Higa

1 COMMENT

  1. Tourists should not fear sharks. Sharks as in the movie Jaws do not really exist. The shark in the Jaws movie was a robot and I just explored a fascinating shark exhibit brought together by Grande Exhibitions called, Planet Shark.

    These animals are an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem and the more education we have of them, the less fear we will have of sharks in general. Also, many sharks are endangered species and their only hopes of survival is our education and appreciation of them.

    Tourists should worry more about their swimming abilities than sharks. I can’t tell you how often there are tourists that want to take a scuba class yet don’t know how to swim.

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