Monday, October 4, 1999

State studies why
more sharks sighted

Another sighting off Waikiki
yesterday fuels concern about
the encounters

Kailua-Kona beach reopens

By Lori Tighe


Another shark sighting off Waikiki yesterday has fueled concern about the recent rash of shark encounters, said state officials.

"We're wondering what's attracting them," said Tim Johns, director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. "We're taking a look at it."

In the past week, a number of reef sharks were spotted off Waikiki.

The shark which appeared Sunday off Waikiki was a docile, 5-foot black tip reef shark, said Capt. Edmund Pestana of the Ocean Safety Division. Black tip sharks are generally not considered to be a threat to people.

"Everyone's getting excited about the shark sightings. It seems they've been rather harmless." But he added, "We're so lucky they're not showing any aggression."

Waikiki Beach remained open and people seemed to enjoy themselves in the water yesterday afternoon even as the Fire Department helicopter hovered overhead searching for the shark.

Last week, thousands of tourists and residents were told to leave the water after two reef sharks appeared to be in a feeding frenzy off the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

Randy Honebrink, a member of the state's shark task force, said security guards at Waikiki hotels have reported more sharks than usual to lifeguards.

"Anytime we see more activity, it concerns us," Johns said. "We want to know why in order to raise people's consciousness."

The shark incidents in Waikiki do not seem to be related to a shark attack on the Big Island Friday, Honebrink said.

Kailua-Kona beach
where surfer was bit
reopens on Big Isle

By Lori Tighe


The state reopened a Kailua-Kona beach where a shark, believed to be a tiger shark, attacked a surfer Friday.

The 16-year-old victim who had his arm mauled remained at Queen's Hospital. A nursing supervisor declined to give information on his condition.

This weekend, state officials used boats and a helicopter to search for more sharks, or what could be attracting them off the Kona Coast.

When nothing unusual was found, officials reopened the beach near the old Kona Airport Park yesterday.

Randy Honebrink, a member of the state shark task force, doubts the Big Island surfer could have prevented the attack.

"The kid was not doing anything wrong, although he was surfing at dusk. We encourage them not to do that," Honebrink said.

"But there's never been a confirmed shark bite off the Kona coast. Surfers go out at dusk all the time, and he was surfing with other people."

Some species of sharks feed in the late afternoon to evening and may accidentally bite swimmers in their hunt.

"Generally when a shark bites a human, they don't continue. But by then the damage is done," Honebrink said.

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