Great White Shark Gets Terrifyingly Close to Hawaii Photographer

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: October 5, 2022
© Ramon Carretero/
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When you’re diving in the beautiful waters off the coast of Hawaii, you get the opportunity to see a variety of sea creatures. Underwater photographers come from all over the world to capture fish, seals, and other wildlife. 

Deron Verbeck took his camera as he went diving off Big Island’s Keahole Point. Keāhole Point is the westernmost point of the island of Hawaii. People travel there to watch a mysterious blow hole erupt but Verbeck wanted to see what was in the water. 

While diving, Verbeck thought he spotted a school of Ulua. The biggest Jacks are Ulua, or Giant Trevally, which are prized for their size, energy, and strength. As the dominant species on the reef, they contribute to the community’s ability to maintain a steady and healthy equilibrium. 

Little did Deron know, what was swimming near him was not a school of Ulua. At second glance, the photographer thought it may be a tiger shark. As he got closer and closer to the ocean creature, Verbeck quickly realized that it was a great white shark! 

Thankfully, the shark was minding her own business. Deron believes the shark was about 15 feet long and he took as many pictures as he could while she swam right under him. Hawaiian residents have reported great white shark sightings. Great whites like dwelling in cooler waters, therefore they come to the area between January and April when the water temperature falls below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another reason the great white could be in the area is due to an increase in humpback whales. If there’s one food that these apex predators can’t get enough of, it’s a whale! Even though the shark in the video could’ve been hungry, they tend to be more scared of us than we are of them. 

A Gentle Giant

Deron, being a Hawaii native, knows that the shark swimming near him was calm enough that he’d be safe. If a shark is starving enough to eat a human, you’ll rarely have a chance to realize it when you’re in the water. 

They are incredibly inquisitive animals, and one of the ways they investigate anything, whether it be a crab or a person on a surfboard, is by biting it to get tactile evidence. We’re happy she didn’t need to do that with a photographer so close. 

One comment on the video footage reads, “Perfectly said, she was curious. What animal or fish wouldn’t be curious? They are stunningly beautiful, graceful, powerful creatures. They deserve to live and thrive just like any living thing on this planet. Our survival depends on their survival and the health of our planet and oceans.”

When we’re in the water, it’s like a zoo for the animals that live there. Sometimes, they’ll check us out and see if we’re a threat. Most of the time we’re not, with the exception of fishermen. Unless the animal has a baby nearby, you’ll likely be left alone. 

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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