Hawaii Shark Experience | Shark Conservation
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Shark Conservation

One of our main goals at Hawaii Shark Encounters is to support and further the cause of shark conservation. The demise of the shark populations is a global issue that needs our immediate attention and action.

We also aim to achieve or exceed all guidelines of conduct and requirements of most Eco-tourist societies. And as you can see in the section “Customer comments” we have had many elated guests that see our tour as one of the best experiences of their lives.

See the relevant sections for more information

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ECO TOURISM

The general misconception is that there are still plenty of sharks. It is rare to find sympathy for an animal that most people are terrified of. Sharks have a bad reputation that is undeserved and incorrect. This makes it possible for the slaughter of sharks by the millions to continue when it should cause a global outrage. The demand for Shark fin soup, considered a delicacy in Asian countries, is wiping out shark populations around the world.

More research is needed to find out important information about the biology of individual shark species, and how the current fishing practices will affect their populations. One thing is clear because sharks are slow to mature and reproduce in very low numbers, the populations will hit a point of no return much faster than any other fish species that is being hunted extensively. Many shark species are already nearing a point of decimation that will be difficult to stop and reverse. What we do now, or fail to do, will affect the health of our oceans drastically.

So why should we protect sharks?

Sharks keep our oceans healthy and clean. Without sharks, the oceans would be a cesspool of the sick, dying and dead. Fisheries would collapse. The balance would be disturbed to a point of no return. The extinction of sharks would impact the environment and economy on a global scale. When we recognize that we have to respect and protect sharks we are also taking one step towards saving the oceans!

 Why are shark tours beneficial for Shark Conservation?

Shark experts and eco-tourism operators from around the world have recognized the educational value of our tour.  While enjoying the encounter and having an experience of a lifetime, the guests are presented with in-depth information about shark biology, ecology and behavior and the threats sharks are facing globally.

Our crewmembers have years of experience with sharks and they are ardent conservationists and shark experts.

Dispelling the myth of the mindless killer – the battle against irrational fears

Changing the way sharks are seen in the public eye is an important part of shark conservation. People will not protect what they fear and there is a general lack of concern for the demise of sharks. We find out every day that people are indeed interested and fascinated by sharks – there simply is a lot of misinformation and hype and the sensationalism of news programs feeds on the wide spread fear of sharks.

Nothing corrects that impression like a real life encounter with sharks, under safe and well-supervised conditions. Most guests walk away with a newfound appreciation for sharks and the important role they play in our environment.

A Positive Experience – a new way of thinking

Having a personal encounter is one of the most powerful ways to learn and to change habits. No matter what attitude a person may have at the beginning of the tour, by the end, they will leave with a completely different image of what sharks are really like.

Once a person has been in the presence of these graceful animals in the open blue water they can correct the horrendous image of the “Jaws” monster in their mind.

Also see the “Eco tourism “ page

And “ Research” page

SHARK CONSERVATION

Sustainable Practices 

Our tour is inherently low impact – much less than any diving or fishing operation. We go to the same site, three miles off shore and turn off the engines, where we are able to observe a resident population of animals that lives in the area because of optimal conditions. The species of sharks that we see during the tour appear because they live in the environment that is most suitable to their species. We don’t catch sharks or relocate them. We don’t troll, therefore not wasting fuel or polluting the environment. We don’t touch any reefs. We don’t anchor. There is no impact to the environment.

We let people climb into a cage to see the sharks in their natural environment, keeping the humans confined and letting the animals be in their natural environment.  It is the most controlled way to observe a species in the wild. And it is obvious why that is ultimately more beneficial to the animals than being caught and displayed inside an Aquarium.

(see page about “sharks in captivity” )

 

The sharks come and go as they please. They can prosper and be appreciated by tourists as well as the local community.

The only impact we have is on the psyche of the guests as they experience the beauty of the animals and the ocean that surrounds them.

 

Shark experts and eco-tourist operators have recognized the educational value of our tour.  While enjoying the encounter and having an experience of a lifetime, the guests are presented with in-depth information about shark biology, ecology and behavior and the threats sharks are facing globally.  Participants of our shark tour walk away with a wealth of knowledge that will help them understand the importance of sharks and a healthy ocean ecosystem.

Our crewmembers have years of experience with sharks and they are ardent conservationists and shark experts.

 

 

Hawaii Shark Encounters supports many outreach and educational projects, locally and internationally.

see our page on “Education” for more details

See our “Community” page

Also see our “Conservation” pages

 

MUST READ

“Captivity vs. wild” – Watching sharks in their own environment

 

 

Raising Awareness for environmental protection

 

Every day we take out guests from all over the world and show them that Hawaii is a place where ocean creatures can find protection, in particular on the North Shore. It sets an example of what can be done when a community cares about its resources. This goes along with the fact that the North Shore has many other examples of living green and that the community truly is attempting to minimize its impacts on the environment.

(for more info see Haleiwa links to community groups and businesses go to “Haleiwa links”)

 

We don’t have to preach. Simply giving people a chance to enter the blue and be in the ocean makes an impact they will not forget. Every day the experience with the sharks inspires young people to dedicate their careers to ocean sciences and marine biology or to simply live with more care and love for the environment.

 

Throughout the tour, the crew provides lots of information about the magnificent creatures that call the North shore their home, such as Whales, dolphins and turtles. They discuss the demise of sharks due to shark finning and over fishing, and educate our guests on the crucial role sharks play as a top predator in a healthy ocean environment.

 

For active involvement we stop to pick up floating debris and ask guests to note and report animals with hooks in their mouths or entanglement by old fishing (which we see almost every day).

 

 

Financial Benefit for the Local Community

The North Shore business community benefits from the many guests that come to Haleiwa to see the sharks, and as a small business, Hawaii Shark Encounters can make sure it provides steady employment and benefits to local residents.

 

Over the years, we have taken countless students on free educational tours and have donated our time to schools and after-school programs by giving marine and shark presentations.

 

 

We continually support most community fundraisers by giving out free tours and gift certificates.

 

 

We are members of:

TEIS (The international ecotourism society)

Hawaii Ecotourism Association

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SHARK LINKS

Shark and Ocean Sites:

SaveOurSeas.com – Save our Seas

SharkSavers.org – Shark and Manta Ray conservation

Manta Ray of Hope – experts on Manta ray conservation

Hawaii.edu/HIMB/SharkLab – Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology Shark Research Group

Pew Environment Group Global Shark Conservation 

Okeanos Foundation

Pacific Voyagers 

Monterey Bay Aquarium 

SharkProject.org – Shark Organization in Europe

The American Elasmobranch Society – An AMAZING source for shark information.

WildAid.org – fighting the illegal Wildlife trade 

The Micronesia Challenge

OceanConservancy.org

Oceana.org – Oceana, protecting the World’s Oceans

Miami.edu/SharkLab – Bimini Biological Field Station

Mote.org/sharks – Mote Marine Laboratory

NOAA.gov – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

iucn.org – IUCN List of Endangered Species


Shark Diving

Beqa Adventure Divers (Fiji) – one of the Best (and safest) shark dives in the world

Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures –  most exciting shark diving in the Bahamas – live aboard shark diving specialist

Shark Explorers – Shark diving in South Africa and beyond

Shark Stuff For Kids:

Kidzone Shark Activities – Coloring Pages, Puzzles, Games, Worksheets, Books, etc.

Enchanted Learning Zoom Sharks – Educational Material, Information Sheets, Printouts, Activities, etc.

Shark Surfari – National Geographic online Shark Quiz

Think Quest – Online Shark Quiz

Ichthyology – Shark Puzzless

SHARK CAPTIVITY

The questions whether to watch sharks in the wild or inside an aquarium is easily answered:

What is the difference between watching African Wildlife in a cage or during a safari out in the bush?

Would you rather see a lion inside a concrete Zoo enclosure or proudly roaming the plains of Africa accompanied by his pride?

Yes, it is convenient for us to go to a marine park to see sharks behind a glass panel, or even go inside the tank to swim with them. But in comparison to seeing them in the wild, a tank encounter is about as exciting and real as holding a lion cub in a petting zoo. If you are fortunate enough to be in a location where you can observe animals in their natural environment, you should take advantage of it. The opportunities are becoming more and more rare with every year.

We agree that many Aquariums are great institutions of science and education, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and theWaikiki Aquarium.

They give the public a chance to observe and learn about sea life. They have also done extensive studies on sharks in captivity and have developed good practices to ensure the welfare of the animals.

Most shark species are particularly difficult to keep alive in captivity. The mortality rate, especially for larger species, is high. Sharks are extremely sensitive to electric currents and vibration. Look at the tank enclosures surrounded by pumps, filters, lights and people knocking on glass panels and you can understand why sharks get disoriented and sick. The smaller species such as black tip sharks seem to do fine inside a tank. Larger animals, such as tiger sharks and great white sharks suffer and most often die within a short period when in captivity. They are just not made to be inside a small cubicle made of glass and metal.

Ask any conservationist that has dedicated his/her life to protecting anything in the natural world, and most of them will tell you their inspiration came from seeing animals in the wild or having special encounters with an animal in their natural surrounding.

Aquariums have a purpose for education, but the true inspiration for kids comes from being out in the ocean, from feeling, breathing and seeing nature and from having that special connection and impact that only a real-life experience can provide.

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HOW YOU CAN HELP

Be informed about Products

Be aware of products made from shark meat, fins, cartilage and squalene. Hundreds of thousands of sharks are being harvested each year to produce these products. Often it is a cleverly hidden ingredient. In Europe the name “dogfish” used in fish and chips hides the fact that it is actually the meat of sharks.

Jewelry and Shark Jaws

When purchasing jewelry with sharks teeth, only buy fossilized teeth, which are usually blue or brown in color. The white teeth are modern and most likely have been harvested illegally. The same goes for sharks jaws and products made from sharkskin.

Shark Finning

Support organizations that work towards fighting the practice. Contact your representatives and request that they work towards ending the practice of shark finning. When traveling, don’t purchase shark fin products and shark fin soup. It is represented as a “delicacy” but in reality it has almost no taste and no nutritional value. And the fact that the whole animal gets slaughtered just for the fins makes it an outrageously cruel and wasteful practice.

Pass on your Knowledge

Tell your friends about your experience and what you know about sharks.

What’s on TV isn’t always true – Demand better quality of information

Support educational TV programs and encourage your kids to watch them. Avoid the sensationalistic programming that continues to portrait sharks as nothing but bloodthirsty killers.

Be Pro-Active

Don’t support recreational game fishing for sharks.

  • Support, or even join an organization that promotes shark and ocean conservation
  • Learn about marine life, their behavior and the dangers. Entering the ocean is a wilderness experience and you should be aware of situations that can be dangerous. Sharks are only one aspect, as by far more people are hurt or killed by jellyfish or drowning.

Stay informed and learn more about the urgent issues that affect sharks Check out SharkAllies.org

SHARK ATTACKS

Thriller movies portray sharks as ferocious predators that aggressively attack and kill innocent swimmers. The truth is much less exciting–or dangerous. The chances of a shark attack are extremely low.

Sharks are not unpredictable, deranged killers. Rather, sharks play an essential part in the ocean’s balance by removing the weak and sick from marine animal populations.

Shark Attacks in Hawaii

Unlike most shark species, tiger sharks, great white sharks, and bull sharks regularly hunt prey that is struggling on the surface and that is approximately the size of a human being.

When seen from below, swimmers and surf boarders look similar to seals or the fat bodies of a sea turtle.

green turtle silhouette surfer silhouette

Splashing creates irregular ripples in the water below, which entice the shark to check out an apparently injured animal. Combining the outline of a person on the surface, the splashing and low visibility in the water make for conditions that would appear as perfect hunting conditions. And despite all that, attacks are extremely rare.

The most common type of Hawaii shark attack is the so-called “hit and run” assault where a shark may test the prey and then release the person immediately. Because humans not part of a shark’s normal diet, they are quickly abandoned for better prey. These shark attacks usually cause leg injuries below the knee and are rarely fatal.

Hawaii Shark Attack Statistics

In 2007, there were only 2 attacks in the state of Hawaii – an all-time low.

In Hawaii, without knowing it, thousands of people come in close contact with sharks each year while swimming, surfing, and boating. Although the rate of shark attacks in Hawaii remains steady at about three per year, the number of people in the water continues to climb. Thus, the number of Hawaii shark attacks is negligible.

Tiger sharks are one of three main shark species known to attack humans and are responsible for most shark attacks in Hawaii. Only about three shark attacks occur per year in Hawaii and few shark attacks are fatal. The Hawaii shark attack rate is surprisingly low considering the thousands of people who swim, surf and dive in Hawaiian waters every day.

Global Shark Attack Statistics

The odds of being attacked by a shark in the US is 1 in 6 million

An average of 100 attacks worldwide with only 10 (average) being lethal.

Compare this ratio to:

★ Odds of falling down the stairs and dying – 1 in 200,000

★ Odds of being struck by lightning – 1 in 4.3 million

★ Odds of drowning in a bathtub – 1 in 800,000

★ Odds of dying in a car accident – 1 in 6,000

More people are killed by:

★ Bees (90-100 people per year)

★ Dogs (about 20 -30 in the US per year)

★ Toasters (about 700+ per year)

★ Falling from a chair or other furniture: (about 650 in the US per year)

In contrast, humans kill 23-70 million sharks every year. 

This is the conservative number based on fisheries reports. The real number is most likely 2 to 3 times higher due to illegal and unreported fishing.

Check out websites with verified shark information instead of believing sensationalistic programming on TV.

International Shark Attack File 

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SHARK FINNING

Every year, 23-70 Million sharks are killed for their fins.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy sold in most Asian countries, most notably in Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Last year, Hong Kong alone imported an astonishing 10.3 million kgs of shark fins in one year.

Conservationists across the globe are struggling to slow down the rate of slaughter, but the high-profit margin for fins make the trade of fins nearly impossible to stop. Banning the product and establishing areas of complete protection for sharks are the goal many countries are now striving for.

In 2010, Hawaii was the first State in the world that banned the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins.

See more information on all campaigns on Shark Allies.com

For shark finning info:

http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/sharks/

OR

 SharkSavers.org