Caught on camera: Divers swim with hammerhead sharks off Kona

Photo: Jeff Leicher


The ocean is a special place that can offer humans remarkable and memorable opportunities.

That was the case off Kona when a group of adventurers encountered a school of hammerhead sharks.

The crystal-clear ocean is home to some of the most amazing marine life on this planet.

“Winter is a good time for big animals off the Kona Coast,” said videographer Jeff Leicher. “We got humpback whales, we got manta rays, we got whale sharks, but my favorite is the schools of hammerheads.”

Leicher got to see his favorite up close and personal with a handful of divers from Jack’s Diving Locker.

“We had Bob Weir as a client. He was in the Grateful Dead for 50 years and he likes adventure, and we went out and we found the school of hammerheads,” Leicher said.

A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks swam up to them and stuck around.

Scalloped hammerheads can grow up to 14 feet. Adults live offshore and come into shallower waters of Hilo, Kaneohe, and Waimea bays and other areas like Kona to pup.

“We can usually find them in December and January about a mile offshore. Turns out, it’s not dangerous to swim with them,” Leicher said.

They’re the most common of all sharks in the hammerhead family. They are sensitive to light and are found closer to shore during the day.

When they get together, it’s a big party. They’re known to swim in packs of 100 or more.

“We’re not sure what they eat, but they don’t eat us and they are thrilling to see,” Leicher said. “They’re big, they’re robust, a little bit timid, but with a little bit of effort, you can get close enough for a good look, and we had a lot of fun swimming with these guys.”

Thankfully, they’re not aggressive to humans and are considered to be safe around divers.

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