Shark specialist talks about close encounter

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Face to face with a 10-foot tiger shark.  A father and son have quite the story to tell.  The duo from Oahu were spear fishing near Hapuna Beach on the Big Island when the shark circled three times and came right up to their faces.

The whole time their spears were pointed and ready to fire just in case.  After some tense moments the shark loses interest and leaves without incident.

"We're just lucky he had a good demeanor. We're in his house and he wanted to give us a thrill and he certainly did," said Mike Uyehara, Spear Fisherman who captured the video of the encounter.


Click to view a gallery of photos from past shark encounters.
State shark specialist Randy Honebrink watched the video.  He confirms it's a female tiger shark.

It's also interesting how the shark gave them a wink as if sizing them up.

"I haven't actually seen that before. It looked like it was looking up and down a little real quick," said Honebrink, who has been studying sharks more than two decades.

The sighting was only 20 yards from shore.  It's odd that sharks are coming this close this early in the season.

"September and October is thought to be when they give birth so they might come closer to shore then," said Honebrink.

While the Uyehara's did have spears that likely would have just made the shark mad had they shot it.  Instead the fisherman correctly swam away calmly without flailing.  They always kept the shark in their sights.

"Even if you don't have a spear gun if you're in a situation where you have to defend yourself from a shark the first thing to do is go for it's eyes because no animal likes to get poked in the eyes," said Honebrink.

Professional divers have come close with sharks hundreds of times.  Kyle Nakamoto, with Red Sea Ocean Adventures, shoots video for Hawaii Skin Diver Magazine and has captured video of sharks in their element.

He says the Uyehara's are lucky, not just to be alive but to have had the experience.

"You get a lot of respect and you appreciate your life that much more. you have that image of the movie Jaws but to be able to swim with sharks and enjoy the same ocean I think is an honor," said Nakamoto.

"We had a really cool experience. Better than spearing fish," said Uyehara.

For more information about sharks go to the states website at

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