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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 7, 2006

9 1/2-foot shark winds up on beach

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

Sarah Watson, 11, left, and Ashley Hunt, 10, feel the rough skin of a dead hammerhead shark that ended up on Kailua Beach yesterday after being tangled in a net and giving birth to pups. Fishermen brought her ashore to free her from the net and released her pups.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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KAILUA Fishermen netted a 9-foot, 5-inch pregnant hammerhead shark off Kailua Beach early yesterday morning and brought it ashore after helping with the delivery of pups.

The shark died before reaching the beach, and its three pups were released into the water, said fisherman Royce Wond, of Kailua.

Wond, 28, and several friends and family vacationing at the Punahou School cottage on Ka'apuni Street, had laid a net in the water about 30 yards offshore just before sunrise. While checking back at about 8 a.m., they spotted the shark tangled in the net and giving birth. Wond said he assisted the animal with the births and released the pups into the water.

Wond said he was forced to bring the animal ashore to break it free from the net. He said the shark was likely the same animal spotted May 30 at Kalama Beach Park. In that case, witnesses reported an 8-foot shark swimming near the shoreline.

The shark carcass drew crowds through the morning. Junior lifeguards in training jogged down the beach to see the animal, and the kindergarten and first-grade class from Windward Adventist School came across it while on a weekly beach walk.

Deborah Dahl, the children's teacher, said she has been doing the walk for six years and had never seen a shark. She took advantage of the situation to discuss bones and muscles, something the children were learning about at school.

"It's more interesting, more real," Dahl said. "It's a really good learning experience for the kids."

While a steady stream of people walked on the beach, no one was in the clear blue water yesterday morning.

Justin Ligsay, 13, who was vacationing at the beach with his family, said although he had been swimming every day, he was now a bit afraid to jump in the water. "When I first saw the shark, I was shocked," Ligsay said. "It didn't make me want to go in."

But with the temperature at the beach slowly rising, the teen said he would likely venture back into the cool waves later in the day.

Joe and Sophia Casarez Jr., from Houston, said they weren't frightened to learn that the shark was in the vicinity where their two young grandsons had recently played in the water. They took photographs of the animal and would take that home as a souvenir.

"I don't think these guys bite," said Joe Casarez. "We're not afraid."

Kanani Wond, Royce Wond's wife, agreed. "I don't think we should be scared," she said, noting that the ocean is the shark's home and people should expect to share the water with them.

Police and state officials gathered at the beach to decide what to do with the carcass.

Tom Hugo, of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the carcass couldn't be left on the beach where it might wash back into the ocean. Neither the state nor the city wanted to claim it, but the fishermen who brought it ashore agreed to dispose of it.

Hugo offered to help with hauling the animal off the beach.

"The kids swim over here," he said. "If the thing gets back in the water, it could attract more sharks."

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.