By Diane Ako
Most times, people go into the ocean hoping to avoid sharks, but two Haleiwa businesses cater to folks who pay to see them. I've used both companies; the first time, when I was seven months pregnant. Most recently, I went with the other company, North Shore Shark Adventures, and brought along a photographer.
Why did I want to do it? I wanted to see these majestic creatures up close, but from the safety of a steel cage. The boat takes people three miles off shore. The sharks are attracted by the sound of the diesel engine - no chumming needed. When we get to the location, staff lowers the cage into the water, and invites four people at a time to crawl in. Then they detach the cage from the boat (still connected by a couple leashes) so that it drifts about ten feet away.
The sharks come almost immediately. I would not know one type from the other, but the staff said it's mostly Galapagos and reef sharks. All I know is, they're beautiful. I've always respected their deadly power and grace, and their essential role in the ecosystem. It saddens me to know that people hunt and kill them, or cut their fins off and leave the animal to die.
Seeing them just feet away amplified my awe for these remarkable creatures. Of course, this is the only way I'd want to run into one of them!