Sharks in Hawaii

Hawaii has over 40 shark species, of which the common ones include the blacktip reef shark, whitetip reef shark, scalloped hammerhead shark, and sandbar shark. Maui island has the most shark sightings and is infamous for the maximum shark attacks in Hawaii – 40% of the total (126) bites from 1995-202.

Sharks hold a special significance in Hawaiian culture and have been highly revered. Locals call it ‘mano,’ and a folklore did the rounds that the deceased took the form of sharks and visited their kin in their dreams.

List of the Different Types of Sharks that are in Hawaii

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Galapagos Shark 9.5-11.5 feet Moderately aggressive
Blacktip Reef Shark 3-4 feet Moderately aggressive (if provoked)
Gray Reef Shark 4-5 feet Highly aggressive
Bignose Shark 8.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive (but not dangerous since they are less encountered)
Sandbar Shark 7-8 feet Not aggressive
Tiger Shark 10-14 feet Highly aggressive
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark 9-12 feet Moderately aggressive
Smooth Hammerhead Shark 8-12 feet Not aggressive (but are potentially dangerous)
Whitetip Reef Shark 3-5.5 feet Moderately aggressive (only when provoked)
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Shortfin Mako Shark 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Longfin Mako Shark 12-14 feet Highly aggressive
Silky Shark 7-10 feet Highly aggressive
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive
Thresher Shark 10-18 feet Not aggressive
Oceanic Whitetip Shark 10-13 feet Highly Aggressive
Big Eye Thresher Shark 11-16 feet Not aggressive
Megamouth Shark 13-18 feet Not aggressive
Cookiecutter Shark 1.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive
Purple Chimaera 3.5-5.5 feet Not aggressive
Longnosed Chimaera 1-5 feet Not aggressive
Diamond Stingray 3-4 feet Not aggressive
Spotted Eagle Ray 14-16 feet Highly aggressive (potentially dangerous)
Manta Ray 13-15 feet Not aggressive
Spinetail Devil Ray 8-10 feet Not aggressive
Torpedo Ray 3-6 feet Moderately aggressive
Giant Stingaree 7-9 feet Highly aggressive (reports of attacks are rare)
Sixgill Stingray 4.5-6 feet Not aggressive
Pelagic Stingray 2-4 feet Not aggressive
Bluntnose Six-gill Shark 15-20 feet Moderately aggressive (rarely target humans, reports of just one provoked attack)
False Cat Shark 8-10 feet Not aggressive
Sponge-headed Cat Shark 1.5-2.5 feet Not aggressive
Prickly Shark 13-14 feet Not aggressive
Combtooth Dogfish 1.5-2.5 feet Not aggressive
Blurred Lanternshark 1.5-2 feet Not aggressive
Blackbelly Lantern Shark 1-1.5 feet Not aggressive
Hawaiian Lantern Shark 1-1.5 feet Not aggressive
Mosaic Gulper Shark 2.5-3 feet Not aggressive
Gulper Shark 2.5-3 feet Not aggressive
Shortspine Spurdog 1.5-3.5 feet Moderately aggressive
Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark 12-14 feet Not aggressive
Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark 11-12 feet Not aggressive (show aggression only if provoked)
Crocodile shark 2.5-4 feet Not aggressive
Frilled Shark 4-5 feet Not aggressive
Kitefin Shark 3-5 feet Not aggressive
Smooth Lantern Shark 1-1.5 feet Not aggressive
Pygmy Shark 1-2 feet Not aggressive
Viper Dogfish 1.5 -2 feet Not aggressive
Velvet Dogfish 2-3 feet Not aggressive

FAQs

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White sharks are common in Hawaii from January to April when the water temperature falls below 75 °F.

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There have been no sightings of bull sharks in Hawaii to date.

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Hawaii offers remarkable opportunities for swimming or cage diving with sharks since it lies in the Central Pacific Ocean. Oahu Island is the hub of all snorkeling and scuba diving tours, with the departure from the Haleiwa Harbor lying on the island’s North Shore.

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