Tiger shark attacks kayaker off Hawaii coast: ‘Mistook me for the seal’

A peaceful day of kayaking near the coast of Hawaii’s Oahu Island took a terrifying turn when a tiger shark launched a sudden and aggressive attack on a kakayker. 

Scott Haraguchi, the Kayaker who narrowly escaped the jaws of the predator, shared his encounter on social media. 

The video, recorded on May 12, shows the animal charging at Haraguchi and biting his kayak. He then quickly kicks the shark away.

On YouTube, Haraguchi explained that he initially thought the animal was a turtle. 


Video footage shows the tiger shark attacking the kayak on May 12. (Credit: Hawaii Nearshore Fishing via Storyful)

"Heard a ‘whooshing’ sound, looked up and saw a wide brown thing on the side of the kayak," he wrote, adding, "Thought it was a turtle at first. Happened so fast." 

He also noted that he didn’t realize he took his left foot out of the water to brace himself from impact and actually pushed the shark’s head off with it. 

"If you asked me to do that again, even without the shark, I don't think I'd have that flexibility," he continued. "Actually only thought the shark rammed the kayak until I saw the video at home." 

Haraguchi also told licensing video platform Storyful that he believed the animal had mistaken his kayak for a seal.

"A wounded, disabled seal was seen a half hour after the shark attacked me," he said, adding, "I believe the shark may have wounded the seal and was waiting for it to die, and came back and mistook me for the seal."

According to Hawaii.gov, there are about 40 species of sharks that occur in Hawaiian water, with about eight species somewhat common in nearshore waters. 

Credit: Man survives shark attack off Hawaii’s Big Island, officials say

The most frequently encountered are the whitetip reef, sandbar, scalloped hammerhead and occasionally tiger.

A tiger shark is easily recognized by its blunt snout and the vertical bars on its sides, and is considered the most dangerous shark in Hawaiian waters. Tiger sharks have been found to navigate between the main Hawaiian islands, and thus appear to occupy home ranges much larger than had been previously suspected.

"People who enter the water need to recognize that there are hidden dangers,’ Hawaii.gov continued "A number of marine animals can cause serious injury to people, and sharks are just one example. Entering the ocean should be considered a ‘wilderness experience,’ where people are visitors in a world that belongs to the sharks." 

This story was written from Los Angeles. Storyful contributed.