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Heavy Rains may Increase Sharks Risks Near Shore

The ongoing wet weather in the islands has prompted the state to issue an advisory to ocean-goers.  The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says the recent heavy rains, along with forecasts for more rain in the coming week, may increase the presence of sharks in near-shore waters.

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Image created by Wendy Osher.

“Heavy rains wash a lot of material from streams into the ocean,” said DLNR Interim Chairperson, William J. Aila, Jr. “Dead animals, stream fish weakened by exposure to salt water, and rubbish all attract sharks.  Murky water conditions found near stream mouths are known to increase the risk of people getting bit by sharks,” said Aila.

The chances of getting bit by a shark in Hawaiian waters are extremely small–according to DLNR officials it’s less than one in a million.

Despite the relatively small risk, DLNR recommends the following safety tips:

•         Swim, surf, or dive with other people, and remain close to assistance.
•         Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some shark species are known to feed inshore.
•         Do not enter the water with open wounds or bleeding as sharks can detect blood and body fluids in very small concentrations.
•         Avoid murky water, harbor entrances, and areas near stream mouths (especially after heavy rains), channels, or steep drop-offs.
•         Do not wear high-contrast clothes or shiny jewelry as sharks have keen vision for contrast.
•         Refrain from excessive splashing.
•         Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present, and leave the water quickly and calmly if one is sighted.  Do not provoke or harass sharks, even small ones.
•         If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water.  Avoid swimming near dolphins, as they are prey for some large shark species.
•         Remove speared fish from the water or tow them a safe distance behind you.
•         Do not swim near people fishing or spearfishing.
•         Swim or surf at beaches patrolled by lifeguards, and follow their advice.

(Information courtesy State of Hawaii)