Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shark at Kona Pier

 Swim Lane off Kailua Pier in Kona
We have been swimming from the Kona pier for over a decade and never seen a shark. We have seen sharks while snorkeling in Maui and encountered them in the Caribbean, but never in Kona.   So we  were surprised to see a shark in shallow water directly under the swim lane while snorkeling toward the King Buoy with friends last week.
Shark under swim lane near Kailua Pier in Kona

In our other shark encounters, the sharks were in deep water if stationary or they were moving and gone quickly.  Swimming above a stationary shark in shallow water was different and very unnerving.
Bait ball next to Kailua Pier in Kona
We continued on our snorkel and followed our friends to an immense bait ball nearby.  A bait ball is a tightly packed formation of fish.  It is often spherical shaped, but in this case it was a massive, long rectangle of fish.  Some sources say these formations last only a few minutes, but the frequent bait balls near the pier in Kona remain intact a long time.  Some claim that bait balls are a defensive maneuver of small fish.   Perhaps the nearby shark had just finished a huge meal.
Bill ("dolphin-man") swimming through the bait ball

We swam further out to see if we could get to a pod of dolphins swimming near a half dozen tour boats in the bay. The dolphins had left by the time we got there.  
Dolphin tour Boats in Kailua Bay across from Royal Kona Resort
But we made it to the 1500 meter swim buoy.
Buoy marking swim route in Kailua Bay, Kona

We were hoping the shark would be gone by the time we swam back and after a  quick look around there was no sign of the  shark.  Relieved, we slowed down and rested a bit by treading water.  Our friends were distracted with something under us, so we put back on our masks to check it out.  
Shark underfoot in Kona
Directly below our feet was the shark lying on the sand.   “SWIM!”  We all made it back to the pier very quickly.  Though many of the swimmers were talking about the shark on the pier, most were not worried and jumped right in.

Our friends were convinced the shark was just sleeping or sick.  Whatever brought the shark to our swimming lane, we can no longer say that we have never seen a shark in Kailua Bay.

1 comment:

Andrew Cooper said...

Never seen a shark in Kona? How do you manage that? Sharks are quite common along the Kona coast, we routinely encounter whitetip reef sharks. These small sharks are beautiful and rarely any threat to a swimmer or diver. I suspect you met a whitetip.

Try diving from the beach just south of the Honokohau harbor entrance. Good odds of meeting one of the resident tigers.