Swimming With Sharks, More Common Than You Think

In 2007, bodyboarders participating in the Pipeline women’s surf competition had a shark scare.

“The conditions were stormy and muddy waters. During the final, the girls caught a couple waves and a shark appeared thrashing around,” explained surf competition producer Belly DePolito. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Local surfer Jason Vigil says surfers are always on the lookout for sharks. Vigil, who encountered one himself, said he was especially blown away by the viral video.

“I was speechless, I was like, whoa, it looks like it actually smacked him at one point,” he said.

Waikiki Aquarium director Andrew Rossiter said the public can learn things from the video.

“Fanning did the right thing,” he said. “He obviously didn’t panic. I believe his adrenaline was going through the roof, so he lashed out. He hit the shark and that may have been enough to deter it from coming in for an exploratory bite.”

Rossiter said interaction between humans and sharks happens more often than people think.

“A friend of mine was swimming right in front of the aquarium about six months ago and he got bumped by a big tiger shark,” Rossiter said. “He just pushed it away and swam to shore. So they’re out there. They are ready to check you out if need be, but it doesn’t mean they are looking for people to eat.”

Rossiter advises surfers and swimmers to hit a shark in the eye or under the bridge of its nose, where their sense organs are.

“Hitting it there can really disorientate and put it off following up with another bite,” he said. “You should always be aggressive towards a shark.”

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