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(c) Kiley Thueson


The Issue

Entanglement is an issue facing many marine organisms, worldwide. An animal can die as a result of infection, starvation, and traumatic injury/blood loss. The time from initial injury to death can vary from 1 day to multiple years.


Whale Sharks are large, powerful animals that can dive quickly, thrash unpredictably, and cause bodily injury and/or death to a swimmer.

Please note: Any attempt at disentanglement from un-trained individuals is highly discouraged.

Action Plan

Hawai’i Uncharted, NOAA affiliates, and volunteers are working on protocols and the adaption of specialized tools that can be used in future whale shark entanglement cases. Recovered gear is also being examined in an attempt to understand where it may be coming from and how to mitigate this issue.

If you come across an entangled whale shark, please call the HURC hotline at 808-465-4872.

To Date

8 entangled whale sharks have been sighted throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. With more whale sharks being sighted in Hawaiʻi, the likelihood of sighting whale shark entanglements continues to increase.

What Can You Do?
  • Call us at 808-465-4872 (HURC)

  • Document the animal fully, take note of the location.

  • Give the animal space.

Entanglement artwork by: Danielle Burnside

Links to Previous Cases:
  1. Whale Shark Disentanglement, Hawaii DLNR, July 31 2018. Video available on Vimeo.

  2. Entangled Whale Shark, Cascadia Research Collective, June 14, 2022. Video available on Youtube.

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