Fish feedings blamed for shark sightings

Published: May. 21, 2015 at 2:15 AM HST|Updated: May. 21, 2015 at 3:29 AM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A jetty off of Queen's Beach in Waikiki has become a popular spot for feeding fish.

But some see a connection between the practice and recent shark sightings nearby.

"It's adding more chum into the water, bringing them out of where their natural habitat is," said Avi Schwartz of Seattle.

The most recent shark sighting was of a hammerhead off of Waikiki Walls on Monday morning. Ocean safety officials monitored the waters but didn't close the beach since hammerheads are not considered aggressive.

Waikiki surf instructor Xavier Vallarta said he saw the shark, which he said was about ten feet long. He said it came near the area where he sees people feeding reef fish. Recently, he said he saw a man tossing cat food into the ocean.

"You cannot do that because that thing is going to attract sharks. The last three months, that's the third shark I've seen," he said

But not all believe that fish feeding is harmful.

"I don't think feeding the fish make sharks come up. We're feeding them bread. It's not like we're feeding them blood," said Erica Forehand of Cabot, Ark.

Andy Rossiter of the Waikiki Aquarium said sharks usually ignore humans in the water but large numbers of fish amassing near the surface can change that.

"There was a case of somebody actually being killed in the Red Sea last year. And they attributed the shark being drawn into the place where they were feeding fish just like we have here," he said.

Fish feeding is currently banned in places like Hanauma Bay and Rossiter believe a similar ban should be in place in Waikiki.

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