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Shark attacks fisherman in kayak off the coast of Hawaii

Courtesy of Scott Haraguchi

(OAHU, Hawaii) — Hawaiian kayak fisherman Scott Haraguchi found himself in a miniaturized scene from “Jaws” when a tiger shark attacked his kayak about a mile off the coast of Oahu.


Haraguchi captured dramatic video of the incident on his GoPro camera, which he had been running to record his fishing trip.

“I heard a whooshing sound that sounded like a boat heading towards me without the motor, and I looked up and I saw this big wide brown thing which my brain thought was a turtle, but then I got slammed by it and realized that it was a tiger shark,” Haraguchi told ABC affiliate KITV.

The video shows a large tiger shark stealthily approaching the bow of Haraguchi’s kayak before opening its mouth to bite the kayak’s left side.

Haraguchi told KITV that he suspects the attack occurred after the shark mistook his bright yellow kayak for an injured seal, which Haraguchi said he noticed the same day.

“I am thinking that the shark actually disabled and wounded the seal, let it die or was waiting for it to die, came back and thought I was the seal, and attacked me instead,” he said.

Despite the terrifying encounter, Haraguchi continued fishing after the incident. The shark left minor bite marks on his fishing-rigged kayak, which was otherwise unscathed.

“I realize that life is short, time is short on earth, make the most of it, be nice to people, all that stuff,” Haraguchi said, reflecting on the incident.

Shark attacks remain uncommon in the United States, despite a recent resurgence of great white sharks off the coast of New England. The likelihood of a fatal shark attack is 1 in 4,332,817, compared to more common fatal incidents stemming from drowning (1 in 1,134) or airline/space-related incidents (1 in 5,051), according to a database maintained by the University of Florida.

Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources has recorded four shark attacks on the islands since the start of 2023, including two involving tiger sharks.

The Hawaii incident closely follows a Florida incident on May 11 where a 13-year-old girl fought off a shark that bit her several times.

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