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NATURE: Sharks Of Hawaii

Learn surprising facts about the sharks that call the warm waters near Hawaii’s islands their home. Meet the whitetip reef shark, whale shark, tiger shark (pictured) and more.
Courtesy of Alex Werjefelt / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS
Learn surprising facts about the sharks that call the warm waters near Hawaii’s islands their home. Meet the whitetip reef shark, whale shark, tiger shark (pictured) and more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV + Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On demand now with KPBS Passport!

Under the waves and tropical sun, each of Hawaii’s volcanic islands host a unique ocean landscape teeming with biodiversity. But one predator reigns supreme – the shark. With 40 species of shark calling these warm waters home, scientists are seeing new animal behavior around every corner. Whitetip reef sharks “sleep” in tight volcanic tunnels. In the deep water, everything is on the menu for the hunting tiger shark, from birds to humpback whales. Hopping from island to island, uncover surprising moments of cooperation, rarely seen hunting tactics and striking insights into these predators of the world’s paradise on NATURE “Sharks Of Hawaii.”

Preview of Sharks of Hawaii
Sharks vs Bait Ball

Featured Creatures:

  • Blacktip Reef Shark
  • Whitetip Reef Shark
  • Tiger Shark
  • Hammerhead Shark
  • Gray Reef Shark
  • Great White Shark
  • Silky Shark
  • Whale Shark
  • Sandbar Shark
  • Bronze Whaler Shark
  • Manta Ray
  • Humpback Whale
  • Hawaiian Garden Eel
  • Hawaiian Monk Seal
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Opelu (Mackerel)
  • Undulated Moray Eel
  • Laysan Albatross
  • Black Footed Albatross
  • Box Jellyfish
  • Pilot Whale
  • Sperm Whale

What Makes Hawaii's Green Sea Turtles Unique?

Buzzworthy Moments:

  • A school of small mackerel called “Akule” gather in the tens of thousands to form a tight bait ball in order to protect themselves from predators, most notoriously the sharks of Hawaii. But sometimes increasing their profile only attracts more lethal attention.
  • Off the island of Oahu lies an undersea prairie that is home to hundreds of Hawaiian garden eels. Shy creatures found only in Hawaiian waters, these eels only emerge from their burrow to eat zooplankton. They will spend their lifetime in the same spot, trying to avoid the eyes of roaming sharks.
  • A tiger shark’s favorite treat is a humpback whale calf. humpback calves nurse for at least a year, while the mother whales try their best to keep their newborns close. But tiger sharks are clever and stealthy, and one in particular takes advantage when the calf must go to the surface to breathe. The calf barely escapes a gruesome fate.
The Making of "Sharks of Hawaii"

Noteworthy Facts:

  • While some species of sharks do need to swim constantly, whitetip reef sharks are one of the few shark species that don't need to swim in order to breathe. They can lie on the ocean floor to rest.
  • Whale sharks are the world's largest fish and can grow as big as 40 feet long.
  • Manta rays are cousins to sharks, with wing spans that can reach 29 feet. Manta rays are born rolled up, and then unfurl to six feet.
  • Sandbar sharks live in Hawaii year-round. Male sandbar sharks hunt together, but the females travel alone.
Peek-A-Boo with Hawaiian Garden Eels

Watch On Your Schedule:

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A production of Pangolin Pictures and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC in co-production with Terra Mater Factual Studios for WNET. The documentary is written and produced by Kevin Bachar. Paul Atkins and Alex Werjefelt are co-producers. Principal photography by Paul Atkins, Cullen Kamisugi and Alex Werjefelt. Edited by Daniel Kwiatkowski and John Sanvidge. Scott Brick is narrator. For NATUREFred Kaufman is executive producer. Bill Murphy is series producer and Janet Hess is series editor.