Nature: Sharks of Hawaii

Air date: 04/21/2021

Nature: Sharks of Hawaii 

Premieres Wednesday, April 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS Video app

Under the waves and tropical sun, each of Hawaii’s volcanic islands host a unique ocean landscape teeming with biodiversity. But one predator reigns supreme – the shark. With 40 species of shark calling these warm waters home, scientists are seeing new animal behavior around every corner. Whitetip reef sharks “sleep” in tight volcanic tunnels. In the deep water, everything is on the menu for the hunting Tiger shark, from birds to Humpback whales. Hopping from island to island, uncover surprising moments of cooperation, rarely seen hunting tactics and striking insights into these predators of the world’s paradise. 

Featured Sharks and Other Creatures 

Blacktip Reef Shark
Whitetip Reef Shark
Tiger Shark 
Hammerhead Shark 
Gray Reef Shark  
Great White Shark
Silky Shark
Whale Shark
Sandbar Shark 
Bronze Whaler Shark
Manta Ray 
Humpback Whale 
Hawaiian Garden Eel 
Hawaiian Monk Seal 
Green Sea Turtle 
Opelu (Mackerel) 
Undulated MoraEel 
Laysan Albatross 
Black Footed Albatross 
Box Jellyfish 
Pilot Whale 
Sperm Whale 

Buzzworthy Moments: 

  • A school of small mackerel called “Akule” gather in the tens of thousands to form a tight bait ball in order to protect themselves from predators, most notoriously the sharks of Hawaii. But sometimes increasing their profile only attracts more lethal attention. 
  • Off the island of Oahu lies an undersea prairie that is home to hundreds of Hawaiian garden eels. Shy creatures found only in Hawaiian waters, these eels only emerge from their burrow to eat zooplankton. They will spend their lifetime in the same spot, trying to avoid the eyes of roaming sharks.
  • Tiger shark’s favorite treat is Humpback whale calf. Humpback calves nurse for at least a year, while the mother whales try their best to keep their newborns close. But Tiger sharks are clever and stealthy, and one in particular takes advantage when the calf must go to the surface to breathe. The calf barely escapes a gruesome fate. 

Noteworthy Facts: 

  • While some species of sharks do need to swim constantly, Whitetip reef sharks are one of the few shark species that don’t need to swim in order to breathe. They can lie on the ocean floor to rest.   
  • Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish and can grow as big as 40 feet long.  
  • Manta rays are cousins to sharks, with wing spans that can reach 29 feet. Manta rays are born rolled up, and then unfurl to six feet. 
  • Sandbar sharks live in Hawaii year-round. Male Sandbar sharks hunt together, but the females travel alone.  

Short TV Listing: Meet the sharks that call the waters near Hawaii’s islands their home. 

Long TV ListingLearn surprising facts about the sharks that call the warm waters near Hawaii’s islands their home. Meet the Whitetip reef shark, Whale shark, Tiger shark and more. 

Series Overview:
Nature is a voice for the natural world, bringing the wonders of wildlife and stories of conservation to millions of American viewers. The series has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 19 Emmys and three Peabody Awards. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details). To further explore the natural world, the  Nature website offers behind-the-scenes videos, filmmaker interviews, blog posts, educational resources, digital-only series and more. Nature is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and PBS. 

Production Credits:
Nature: Sharks of Hawaii is a production of Pangolin Pictures and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC in co-production with Terra Mater Factual Studios for WNET. The documentary is written and produced by Kevin Bachar. Paul Atkins and Alex Werjefelt are co-producersPrincipal photography by Paul Atkins, Cullen Kamisugi and Alex Werjefelt. Edited by Daniel Kwiatkowski and John SanvidgeScott Brick is narrator. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is Executive Producer. Bill Murphy is Series Producer and Janet Hess is Series Editor.

Support for NatureSharks of Hawaii is provided by the Arnhold Foundation, The Fairweather Foundation, Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao, Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Charles Rosenblum, Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, Sandra Atlas Bass, Colin S. Edwards, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by PBS.  


About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEENWLIW21,
WLIW-FM and operator of NJ PBS, the statewide public media network in New Jersey and its news division, NJ SPOTLIGHT NEWS. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multiplatform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere. 





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Whitetip Reef Sharks in cave. Credit: © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Tiger Shark. Credit: Alex Werjefelt / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Tiger Shark approaching a dead Sperm Whale carcass. Credit: Alex Werjefelt / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Tiger Shark. Credit: Alex Werjefelt / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Great White Shark. Credit: Alex Werjefelt / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Undulated Moray Eel. Credit: Cullen Kamisugi / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Humpback Whales. Credit: Alex Werjefelt / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

The gullet of a Manta Ray. Credit: © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Whitetip Reef Shark sleeping in cave. Credit: © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS

Sea Turtle. Credit: Paul Atkins / © THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC & TMFS