TV Show to shed new light on shark's true colors

Alex Barette
Alex Barette
Brian & Anna Holtzapfel
Brian & Anna Holtzapfel
Stefanie Brendl
Stefanie Brendl
Todd Murashige
Todd Murashige

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HALEIWA (KHNL) - A lot of attention is on sharks this week, after Monday's sighting off Oahu's North Shore.

To explore some myths about the predators, we headed out to a shark tour in Haleiwa.

The cage-diving company has teamed up with a production crew from L.A. to do a TV show, and prove sharks aren't the monsters they're made out to be.

They're submerged in a whirlpool of myths that trigger fear over their deadly reputation.

"The possibility of some big shark coming along, just kind of nervous," said 9-year-old Alex Barette, a shark tour customer.

It's the kind of nervousness and curiosity that draws people to Hawaii Shark Encounters in Haleiwa. But after the experience, shark tour customers say the sharks behavior is contrary to the vicious personality Hollywood paints.

"I thought they would come closer to the cage but they don't try to attack or they didn't try to bite the cage or anything," said Anna Holtzapfel, a shark tour customer.

Stefanie Brendl, the owner of Hawaii Shark Encounters, has shot video of the underwater cage experience. Brendl is an experienced diver who swims with sharks, even tiger sharks.

"In clear water and in a location where it's mellow, yes, you can swim with tiger sharks. I would never recommend this to anybody because it would be irresponsible but tiger sharks are really quite slow and mellow," she said.

"When you're calm in the water, and spear fishermen and free divers will agree with me, that people that have been in the water with sharks that are comfortable and mellow, you basically move around them as if you're just another shark. They're really quite mellow when they just let you be in the middle of them," said Brendl.

While calm in clear water, Brendl says they're a danger in murky water because that's where sharks hunt.

Still, she says the predators are not man-eaters, as shown on Monday, when Chopper 8 caught video of a shark choosing to attack a school of fish instead of nearby surfers.

When they do attack people, Brendl says it's usually a test bite.

The most recent shark attack was September of 2008. 40-year-old Todd Murashige survived after being bitten while surfing off Oahu's Windward side.

"Sharks will actually put their teeth on something to figure out what they are. That's why often times people will end up with a puncture wound because {the sharks} let go, saying this is not what I thought it would be. Unfortunately we're very fragile," said Brendl.

To expose their true colors, Brendl is working with A. Smith and Company Productions on a TV show called 'Shark Boat'.

"The idea of the show is to feature sharks in new light, to get away from the whole shark hysteria," said Brendl.

"If sharks really were out to get humans they could get a few every single day on every single beach," she added.

Sharks are on the brink of extinction. Some species are listed as near-threatened, others are classified as endangered.

Brendl hopes her 'Shark Boat' will strip shark's bad reputation, and build support to save them.

"It's very hard to create any sympathy. People just don't care as much about their demise. If you killed 100 million dolphins every year, there would be a huge outcry," Brendl said.

Right now, 'Shark Boat' is just a proposal. A network hasn't picked it up yet.

A. Smith and Co. Productions has created shows like 'Trading Spaces', 'Hell's Kitchen', and 'Surviving a Japanese Game Show'.