Another Deadly Shark Attack in Hawaii

ENVIRONMENT

A kayaking fisherman was Hawaii’s second shark attack fatality this year, following an August attack on a snorkeler. Prior to 2013 there hadn’t been a single fatal shark attack in Hawaii since 2004. Are shark attacks on the rise? (National Geographic News)

Use our resources to better understand sharks and their behavior.

The species of shark responsible for the death of the fisherman has not been identified. Here are some sharks native to the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. Check out this website for a better run-down.

Blacktip reef sharks are common to Hawaii's coastlines, and so are classified as "inshore sharks." They are not endangered. Photograph by David Doubilet, National Geographic

Blacktip reef sharks are common to Hawaii’s coastlines, and so are classified as “inshore sharks.” They are not endangered.
Photograph by David Doubilet, National Geographic

Grey reef sharks, another inshore species, feed primarily on fish near coastal coral reefs. They are not endangered. Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Grey reef sharks, another inshore species, feed primarily on fish near coastal coral reefs. They are not endangered.
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Tiger sharks like this one are not picky eaters. In fact, the nickname of this inshore species is "the garbage can of the sea." They are not endangered. Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Tiger sharks like this one are not picky eaters. In fact, the nickname of this inshore species is “the garbage can of the sea.” They are not endangered.
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Great white sharks are classified as having a "vulnerable" conservation status. (This shark isn't nearly as vulnerable as the tuna it's eating.) They are normally an "offshore" species and only occasionally swim into coastal areas. Photograph by Brocken Inaglory, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Great white sharks are classified as having a “vulnerable” conservation status. (This shark isn’t nearly as vulnerable as the tuna it’s eating.) They are normally an “offshore” species and only occasionally swim into coastal areas.
Photograph by Brocken Inaglory, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Mako sharks like this one are one of the few species of endothermic (warm-blooded) fish. Mako sharks, an offshore species, are classified as vulnerable.
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Despite their size, whale sharks like this one (another offshore species) actually pose very, very few threats to people. They are a vulnerable species. Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Despite their size, whale sharks like this one (another offshore species) actually pose very, very few threats to people. They are a vulnerable species.
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • Watch our video “River Shark Attacks.” What are some similarities and differences between the shark attacks studied in the video and the shark attacks studied in the Nat Geo News article? Keep in mind, as the Nat Geo News article reminds us, that shark attacks are very, very, very rare.
    • Similarities
      • The species of shark studied in the video, the tiger shark, is the same species studied by the scientist interviewed in the Nat Geo News article.
      • Both attacks occurred relatively close to shore.
      • The victims in both sets of attacks were fishermen (and women).
      • The attacks themselves are gruesomely similar. In the video, a victim has lost her hand to a shark attack. The fisherman in Hawaii died after losing his foot in a shark attack.
    • Differences
      • The sharks in the video inhabit the (freshwater or brackish) rivers feeding the Bay of Bengal, India. The sharks studied in the article inhabit the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
      • The species of shark that attacked the fisherman in Hawaii has not been identified, while scientists in the video eventually identify the Bay of Bengal species as tiger sharks.
  • Read this short article on the the three major types of shark attacks: hit-and-run, bump-and-bite, and sneak attacks. How would you classify the attacks in India and Hawaii?
    • The shark attacks in India and Hawaii are the most common type, hit-and-run. “The victim seldom sees its attacker and the shark does not return after inflicting a single bite or slash wound,” the article says. Hit-and-run attacks are often cases of mistaken identity, when the shark pursues potential prey in water with low visibility. By the time the shark realizes the victim is not a traditional food source such as a seal or fish, the victim is already injured by the “hit.” In the case of the fisherman in Hawaii, the “hit” was fatal.
  • In Hawaii, there have been more shark-attack fatalities in the last six months than the last ten years. So why is the scientist in the Nat Geo News article reluctant to say that shark attacks are on the rise?
    • Even with the recent incidents, there are simply not enough shark attacks to conduct a reliable scientific survey. “The problem with shark bites is that the numbers are so low it’s hard to do any type of statistical analysis,” says the scientist. “There may be something behind [the rise in shark attacks]. It may be due to natural fluctuations or chance.”

3 responses to “Another Deadly Shark Attack in Hawaii

  1. Pingback: Shark Tracked Across the Atlantic | Nat Geo Education Blog·

  2. If you call this educational blog, then you should give correct information:
    1) Third image from the top shows a sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus), also known as grey nurse shark and not a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier). Sand tiger sharks may look scary but are pretty harmless in comparison to tiger sharks.
    3) Fifth picture from the top is a blue shark (Prionace glauca) and not a Mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)

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