Avoid Nearshore Murky Waters – Increased Risk of Sharks in Hawaiian Islands After Heavy Rains

Photo courtesy of travelblog.viator.com
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Photo courtesy of travelblog.viator.com

BY DEBORAH WARD – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) advises the ocean-going public that recent heavy rains, along with forecasts for more rain during the coming week, may increase the presence of sharks in nearshore waters.

“Heavy rains wash a lot of material from streams into the ocean,” said DLNR Interim Chairperson, William J. Aila, Jr. “Dead animals, stream fish weakened by exposure to salt water, and rubbish all attract sharks.  Murky water conditions found near stream mouths are known to increase the risk of people getting bit by sharks.”


Despite this increased risk, the chances of getting bit by a shark in Hawaiian waters are extremely small, less than one in a million.  Still, DLNR recommends that the public follow these safety tips:

•         Swim, surf, or dive with other people, and don’t move too far away from assistance.
•         Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed.
•         Do not enter the water if you have open wounds or are bleeding in any way. Sharks can detect blood and body fluids in extremely small concentrations.
•         Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances, and areas near stream mouths (especially after heavy rains), channels, or steep dropoffs.  These types of waters are known to be frequented by sharks.
•         Do not wear high-contrast clothing or shiny jewelry.  Sharks see contrast very well.
•         Refrain from excessive splashing; keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are known to be attracted to such activity.
•         Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present, and leave the water quickly and calmly if one is sighted.  Do not provoke or harass a shark, even a small one.
•         If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water.  Avoid swimming near dolphins, as they are prey for some large sharks.
•         Remove speared fish from the water or tow them a safe distance behind you.
•         Do not swim near people fishing or spearfishing.  Stay away from dead animals in the water.
•         Swim or surf at beaches patrolled by lifeguards, and follow their advice.

Submitted by Deborah Ward, DLNR Public Information specialist