The: What, Where, When, How, and Why of diving with Sharks


The "Pelagic Shark Program" Also known as the "Pelagic Animal Research and Interaction Program" or what some people simply refer to as: "The snorkel with sharks without a cage." Is an extensively developed program based on shark behavioral research and data collection integrating educational information adapted for the general public to utilize in order to reduce or avoid adverse shark interactions.


Specific survey sites identified as natural aggregation areas are used to approximate local shark populations and movements by surveying the number of sharks present in specified areas and depth profiles during specific times of the day and year. Seasonal movements of shark species divided by gender and weather patterns are recorded to identify differences in behavior.  Lack or abundance of mesopredators are looked at during the trips for correlation studies.  Participants can contribute to the digital shark ID program by submitting photos from their dive (snorkel/freedive) if they attain clear identifiable images of the left profile, right profile, and top side of any "easily identifiable" shark.  If the shark is not already listed in the digital ID, the submitting photographer is asked to name the shark and regular updates on the sharks site fidelity are shared.  


The Pelagic Shark Program starts when you board the One Ocean Diving research and dive vessel, "Pono Kai."   You'll board the 27ft white vessel with a blue canopy at the commercial loading zone of Haleiwa Harbor (closest area to Haleiwa Joes Restaurant) near the white scaffolding/fish scale.


Your guides will welcome you onboard and you will be asked for your shoe size so the crew can get you fitted with a pair of fins.  We offer a variety of snorkeling fins and free diving blades (advanced design fins) mostly from #Cressi brand for your use.  This is also great opportunity to try out professional free diving fins without having to buy a pair first.  Once the crew has you sorted with fins, a mask, and snorkel, and optional rash guard you will be asked to store any items that are not going in the water with you in the vessels cab to assure they stay dry and are protected.  Your captain will give you a safety briefing and very important information about the vessel and emergency protocol in case of the unlikely event of an accident/injury (Rest assured OneOceanDiving staff and owners have a 100% safety record and are trained experienced experts working for over ten years in water with sharks, focusing on shark behavior, and train and run regular emergency response drills for trauma.)   Keep in mind you are several hundred thousand times more likely to be injured on the drive to the harbor than during your experience and time in the open ocean, so drive carefully.)

After the safety briefing the vessel will leave the harbor and begin the 10-15 min trip out to the survey/dive site.  On the ride out your marine biologist and safety diver/Divemaster will give you a lot of fascinating and useful information including:

  • What types of marine animals you will see both near and offshore. 

  • What species of pelagic fish and sharks to look for and how to tell the difference between each species.

  • How to determine gender and the differences in behavior

  • What specific behavior/body language to look for. 

  • How the animals biology and physiology effect their behavior.  

  • How your behavior effects their behavior.

  • How to deter or entice a shark or pelagic animal. 

  • You will also learn about how weather and seasons effect the animals behavior and how it can effect your specific trip based on the current weather pattern.

  • You will learn about Mano (sharks) and their significance in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. 

  • You will learn about the current studies and how to contribute or support the ID program and Hawaii Shark Count 

  • Very important information about how to safely and respectfully swim around sharks as well as what to do in the unlikely event of an adverse approach or presence of agnostic body language, this "Safety Rules and Guidelines" information will be shared within the last five minutes prior to getting into the water so it is fresh in your mind. 

Once arriving at the aggregate zone the marine biologist/divemaster will enter the water 1st to survey the pelagic species, ID specific individuals present, determine the most dominant individuals, and number of pelagics present for the research data set.  After the initial information is shared with the captain on board the first three individuals will don their snorkel gear and walk down the swim ladder and into the water to float on the surface while the sharks and other pelagic species swim around the boat.  The marine biologist will constantly monitor the sharks, other pelagics, and public program participants for changes in behavior and social dynamics.  Your in-water guide will periodically relay information to the captain or one of the research interns on board for the research data set.  

After the initial 20 min the first three people will exit the water and the second group of three will enter (sometimes it is possible to rotate in water based on current conditions and animal behavior.) Depending on the animals behavior and current water conditions and individual persons comfort and snorkeling abilities it is sometimes possible to allow more than three persons in the water at a time.  After the first rotation both groups will switch and have an additional 30 min each in the water.  (Depending on weather conditions, animal behavior, commuting to and from site, and groups showing up and leaving on time, and doning and adjusting gear/getting in and out of the water, the average person spends around 45-95 minutes in the water.) 


Once you come back on board you will likely have a completely different view of sharks, a realistic perspective and most likely a calmness and excitement about just how incredible they are.  You will get to see for yourself that they do not look at humans as a natural prey item and you'll get to see just how beautiful they are for yourself. 

While on board between rotations you will be able to talk about your interactions, what specific behavior you observed, which specific individual sharks or pelagic fish, dolphins, or whales were present.  The rotations also give you a great opportunity to be able to swap around your dive gear if desired, adjust camera settings, and talk to the captian about what you experienced and the current plight of sharks and conservation efforts and needs around the world.  This is a major highlight of the program, to be able to talk to experts in their field and help get involved with the change we hope this program inspires.  

The surface time is also great opportunity to look for whales and dolphins. *whales are seasonal in Hawaii November to May/during the winter months. Dolphins are seen year round but not as frequently on the north shore as the west side of Oahu.  

After everyone has at least two rotations we will make our way back in towards to harbor keeping an eye out for other pelagic life like dolphins, flying fish, sea birds, whales, and we can even stop by a honu (turtle) cleaning station where you can see sometimes up to 15 turtles being cleaned by small fish.)  Your marine biologist/Safety diver will talk with you about which sharks and other pelagic species and specific behavior you encountered on you adventure.  The marine biologist will share information about the current research and population trends and plight or threats to sharks globally. 

Before arriving back at the dock you will be given a hot peppermint and tea tree oil face towel to freshen up with and cards with great information about how you can #HelpSaveSharks and Help protect marine life. 


We hope you will come out and experience this one of a kind, life changing experience, with us very soon.  Mahalo nui loa (thank you so much) for supporting shark and marine research and conservation. Aloha

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