East Oahu shark tour still lurking

Published: Apr. 15, 2009 at 9:30 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 15, 2009 at 10:56 PM HST
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Linda Kaiser
Linda Kaiser
Iolani Lewis
Iolani Lewis
Ocean Ramsey
Ocean Ramsey

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (KHNL) - Shark tours off East Oahu have been caged up, at least for now. The person hoping to start it up says he isn't about to give up just yet.

Iolani Lewis says he decided to delay his shark feeding tours at Maunalua Bay because of the lack of support from the Hawaii Kai community.

He's now focusing on educating the people there about sharks and how the tours would only enhance the bay.

But shark tours never even got the chance to start.

"I'm glad it didn't come to a showdown because I think it would've got kind of ugly, I think there's very heated opposition to this, people that use the bay think it's inappropriate," Hawaii Kai resident Linda Kaiser said.

But the shark tour operator says his decision isn't permanent.

"The sharks will be here anyways, it's just a matter of time until somebody comes and sets up one of these tours here, it could be a member of the community, it could be a company from the Mainland," Lewis said.

Whatever side you're on, both agree that meetings that educate the public helps the situation.

"Seems like the community's way too scared to have anything like this and I know these fears are unfounded from four years of operating a shark tour business in Haleiwa," Lewis said.

Shark conservationists say shark tours are extremely safe.

"I'm confident enough that I would swim outside the cage to prove it," Shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey said. "I hope that people give the sharks the opportunity that they at least get education about."

But people like Linda Kaiser feel it's not about education.

"I think these guys are doing it, they're saying it's for education but it's for money, it's for profit and that's the bottom line," she said.

And the bottom line at least for now keeps shark tours on land.

Despite the shark tour not starting up, Lewis says he'll still go to Thursday's town hall meeting at Kamiloiki Elemenatary School, starting at 7 p.m.