- Water Quality
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This PacIOOS Voyager map shows the movements of tiger sharks fitted with satellite tags near Maui and Oʻahu between 2013 and 2015. The tag is attached to the shark's dorsal fin and sends a signal every time the fin breaks the surface. Pick a shark from the left-hand menu bar to watch its track. Placing your cursor over a location spot gives you the date and time of the event. The pink square symbol indicates the original tagging location and the bright yellow dot shows the last reported detection. There is a level of uncertainty associated with some of these locations - there may be over a mile in error associated with any given point. Disclaimer: This is not a warning system and does not provide real-time monitoring.
Tiger shark. Photo: Albert Kok
Tagging a tiger shark. Photo: Luiz Rocha
SPOT tag on dorsal fin. Photo: HIMB
Maui witnessed a higher number of unprovoked shark bites in 2012 and 2013. In order to better understand tiger shark movement patterns, a team of researchers from the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology equipped 41 tiger sharks with satellite and/or acoustic tags off Maui and Oʻahu and tracked their movements for up to two years.
The study revealed that tiger sharks prefer to spend time on insular shelf habitat, which is a gently-sloping area between the shoreline and the shelf break at a depth of around 600 ft. This type of shelf habitat is home to a wide variety of shark prey, and Maui Nui has more of this shelf habitat than all of the other main Hawaiian Islands combined. The habitat around Maui can support fairly resident tiger sharks, and it also attracts tiger sharks from other parts of Hawaiʻi.
Areas that are most frequently visited by tiger sharks around Maui include waters adjacent to popular ocean recreation sites. However, despite the routine presence of large tiger sharks close to popular beaches, the risk of being bitten remains very low, suggesting tiger sharks normally avoid interactions with people.
The research findings will help officials from the State of Hawaiʻi to raise public awareness of the natural presence of large sharks in Hawaiʻi coastal waters.
With funding from the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), data were collected by Principal Investigators Carl Meyer, Ph.D. and Kim Holland, Ph.D. along with other members of the Shark Research Team of the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UH).
Download the final report: Spatial dynamics of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) around Maui and Oʻahu.
For historical tiger shark tracks and other tagged marine species, visit PacIOOS Voyager.