One of the most common questions our guests ask us is “Will we see any sharks?”. Our answer is always the same: you need not fear these animals during a canoe tour with Maui Paddle Sports, and a little history will help you understand why. “Mano” is the Hawaiian word for shark, and they are considered one of the protectors of the islands. Manos have played a very important role in Hawaii’s history ever since ancient Polynesians paddled across the South Pacific Ocean from Polynesia to Hawaii. Legend has it that on their journey to Hawaii, Polynesians were helped by a mano, who guided them to the new land.
Hawaiians were familiar with the important role that manos play as top predators in the marine ecosystem. They treated sharks as individuals of great power within their realm. Hawaiians have several legends about sharks, including Kamoho, the shark god, Nanaue, the shark man, and the shark that came for poi plus many more.
Nowadays Hawaii is a home to two main categories of them: inshore and offshore manos. Inshore manos, like blacktip and whitetip reef shark, tigershark and sandbar shark can be seen at depths of about 25 to 1000 feet, near coral reefs, close to the coastline and in pelagic environments as well. Offshore sharks generally prefer deeper waters and they are rather reclusive.
Although manos are magnificent and amazing creatures, we never attempt to find or approach any of them on our Maui Canoe Tour, as we always remember that they are to be treated with admiration and respect. Chances are much better that we’ll find lots of fish, turtles, and even whales when they are in season, which our guests are more than happy to see.