Experts ask for tougher laws after baby hammerhead sharks found dead near Keehi Lagoon

KHON - June 26, 2018
Manolo Morales

HONOLULU (KHON2) - Shocking and disheartening! that's how some people are describing the discovery of nearly 100 dead baby hammerhead sharks near Keehi Lagoon.

Some experts are calling for tougher laws to prevent more incidents like this. They say the sharks were probably caught in a gill net. Summer is known as the pupping season for hammerhead sharks so there are a lot of them being born in that area this time of the year.

The baby sharks were dumped by the La Mariana Sailing Club, and worker Samuel Etrata was in disbelief when he came across them.

"I see sharks right from here and then I walked farther and I see all this fish, the sharks across this barricade. It is very shocking, yeah," said Etrata.

He called the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, which is now investigating. Keehi Lagoon as well as Kaneohe Bay are known areas where hammerhead shark pups are born. The director of the Waikiki Aquarium says they were probably caught in fishermen's gill nets.

"To breathe they have to keep moving so once they're in the net for even two to three minutes, they're unable to breathe and they suffocate," said Andrew Rossiter.

He says has never seen so many killed at one time, and adds that there should be tougher laws to prevent this.

"When it's the pupping season and it's a pupping area then maybe they should restrict or ban the use of gill nets just for a couple of weeks to give them a chance," said Rossiter.

State Senator Mike Gabbard has been trying to pass such a law for the last couple of years that would make it illegal to catch sharks in gill nets.

"I'm sick to my stomach about what's happened today. It's really giving me the incentive to make sure that this bill gets passed in 2019," the senator said.

Anyone caught could been fined $500 per shark for the first offense. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate last year but did not move forward in the House.

DLNR is asking anyone with information to come forward. We'll keep checking and let you know what happens with the investigation.