Wild moment shark attacks kayaking fisherman: 'Life is short'

A shark expert explained to Yahoo News why the shark didn't come back for a second bite.

Video has captured the wild moment a large tiger shark lunged at a fisherman’s kayak, causing him to scream in panic.

As the 18-second clip begins, angler Scott Haraguchi can be seen quietly pulling in his line on calm waters 3km off Hawaii’s O’ahu island. Posting the footage to YouTube, he described what happened next.

“Heard a ‘whooshing’ sound, looked up and saw a wide brown thing on the side of the kayak. Thought it was a turtle at first,” he said.

A yellow kayak belonging to Scott Haraguchi on blue calm water near Hawaii. A shark's head on the left about to breach the water.
Fisherman Scott Haraguchi had a lucky escape after a tiger shark lunged at his kayak. Source: Hawaii Nearshore Fishing/YouTube

The shark then thrusts its head out of the water, and appears to latch its jaws to the side of the vessel. Mr Haraguchi said it wasn’t until he got home that he realised he’d pushed the shark’s head away with his foot. “I actually only thought the shark rammed the kayak,” he said.

Speaking to local media, Mr Haraguchi said the encounter was a reminder to make the most of his life. "I realise that life is short, time is short on earth," he said.

The video is similar to a separate encounter in November — it shows a fisherman in a kayak getting very close to a great white shark off the South Australian coast.

Why the tiger shark didn’t come back for a second bite

You can see in the Hawaiian video, that after latching onto the boat for a few seconds, the shark decides to swim away.

Humane Society International shark expert Lawrence Chlebeck believes the shark didn’t continue its attack because it realised it had bitten into a kayak.

“A tiger shark has a very keen sense of taste. Within moments of sinking its teeth into something that wasn’t fleshy, and tasting the very bland plastic, it would understand very quickly it wasn’t a prey item,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

“That’s why there was no follow-up video of the shark coming back for a second chance. The shark would have realised this is not worth spending energy on.”

Are tiger shark attacks common in Hawaii?

The shark was likely drawn to the kayak because fishing increases the risk of being attacked — according to Dr Gavin Naylor, a shark expert in Florida.

Mr Chlebeck spent six years living in Hawaii and described the tiger shark’s action as a “pretty normal thing” to see the species in the region’s warm tropical waters.

“Growing up you’d hear anecdotes about finding the licence plate, a suit of armour or even a cannonball in a shark’s stomach,” he said. “That’s because anything floating in the open ocean, they're going to have a taste,” he said.

How expert avoided being taken by tiger shark

Mr Chlebeck explained to Yahoo how he once avoided a dangerous encounter with a shark in Hawaii.

Swimming in the water while working on a tourist vessel, he saw a dark shape nearby which he realised was a tiger shark. What helped save his life was some advice from the older spear fishermen he was friendly with.

“Tiger sharks are big, powerful animals, but they're very lazy and they only want the easiest meals,” they told him. “So if you keep your eyes on them and they keep your eyes on you, they usually leave you alone. They're only looking for a chance for an ambush or something injured.”

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