Video | The Shark Whisperers

Hawaiian couple guides freediving tours with tiger sharks

Every ocean enthusiast, be he/she paddler, surfer, diver, spearfisherman or otherwise, is well aware of the Cardinal Rule of the sea: As soon as we set foot in the ocean, we’re entering a world that’s not our own. The ocean is a weird and mysterious place where man is merely a visiting spectator, and one far from the top of the food chain. We’re also well aware of the animals that dominate the ocean—sharks—those eerie, elegant beings that are to oceans what lions are to the jungle. And thanks largely to that painfully corny 1970s action film starring our friend the great white, generally, we’re scared to death of sharks.

Lucky for the sharks, not all of us carry that sentiment. Take Kaiwi Berry for instance, a Haleiwa local and a boat captain with a unique business that defies these stereotypes. Together with his wife, Berry operates a freediving tour company that specializes in swimming—without a safety cage—among some of the most revered shark species in the Pacific. By supplying connections with these majestic creatures and spreading awareness about the misconceptions surrounding sharks, Berry hopes to help protect the dwindling populations and show the world that sharks are more than the “man eaters” they’re made out to be.

“I’ve learned that in nature, whatever animal it is, how you want the animal to act is how you’re going to have to react,” says Berry. “It bounces off.  It’s all in your head. The build-up is a lot worse than actually getting in the water.”

Whether standing on top of the ocean with a paddle or diving beneath its surface with a mask, a better understanding for these otherworldly animals is something all watermen and women can appreciate. Even still, where Berry looks to be having the time of his life swimming with these stunning specimens, we still feel a lot more comfortable standing on top of the water when Jaws comes around. Thanks a lot, Hollywood.

Related: Freediving with Fernando—a two-part series on pairing SUP and freediving.

Watch: Killer whale pursuing paddler

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