Walking along Ke’ehi Lagoon in Honolulu on Tuesday, Samuel Etrata spotted a dead baby hammerhead shark, known as a pup, on shore. Then another. And another.
“At least a hundred, but I believe that when the tide came in and went back out some went in the water,” Etrata, who works at the nearby La Mariana Sailing Club restaurant, told KITV. “It's sad to lose all those fish.”
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has opened an investigation, reported The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. While hammerhead sharks are known to give birth in the lagoon at this time of year, they’re not normally found ashore in large numbers.
State officials suspect someone caught the shark pups in a gill net, then illegally dumped the bodies on land, according to the publication.
“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," Andrew Rossiter, director of the Waikiki Aquarium, told KHON.
State Sen. Mike Gabbard told the station that he will renew efforts to pass legislation making it illegal to catch sharks in gill nets, with a $500 fine per shark for first offenses.
“I'm sick to my stomach about what's happened today," he told KHON.
Hawaii officials told Hawaii News Now that La Mariana Sailing Club, which leases the property from the state, would have to clean up the dead sharks.
“It’s just sad because these are God’s creatures and why somebody would do this is like, why?” Betty Dunne, Etrata’s fiancee, told the publication.