Study: Shark Tours Have Little Impact

Researchers Look At Data From Oahu Cage Tours

 UPDATED 4:04 AM HST Jul 15, 2009
HONOLULU -

A study conducted by some University of Hawaii researchers said existing shark tours have little if no negative impact on public safety.

Earlier this year, a shark tour proposed for the waters off Maunalua Bay was canceled due to public concern.

A task force was formed to look at legislation that would possibly ban shark-feeding tours.

Cage tours such as North Shore Shark Adventures and Hawaii Shark Encounters have been operating for years on Oahu?s North Shore.

These tours have kept records and UH marine researchers used the data to see what effect the tours have had on public safety and shark ecology.

?We found the main two species at the cages were Galapagos and sand bar sharks and neither ? have been implemented in many shark attacks and are not considered very dangerous sharks,? said University of Hawaii researcher Yannis Papastamatiou.

Papastamatiou is one of the four UH researchers who authored the study. They are based at the University's Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at Coconut Island, where they can study sharks up close.

Papastamatiou said they looked at the natural seasonal movement of sharks and whether that was disrupted by the cage areas. It wasn't.

He said they saw no increase in the number of shark attacks along the north shore since the cage tours began.

But Papastamatiou cautioned that the findings can't be used to justify shark tours elsewhere.

?Our study was specific to the north shore of Oahu, so you can't necessarily extrapolate those results to any shark operation tour,? he said.

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