Experienced skipper Randy Llanes, 47, who ran a deep sea fishing charter, jumped into the water at Honokohau Harbour, on the Big Island, when he spotted the broadbill swordfish. He shot it with his spear gun, but seconds later became a victim himself.

The spear’s line got caught in a mooring anchor as the wounded swordfish thrashed around in an attempt to escape. Caught on the anchor, the swordfish headed back towards Llanes at high speed and hit him in the chest with its three-foot bill.

Emergency crews attempted CPR, but Llanes died in hospital from his injuries. The 40-pound fish – which was about 6ft long in total – was also taken from the water.

A native of Hawaii, Llanes had run his charter business for 18 years, and had more than 25 years’ experience of fishing in the islands. He was described by family members as an intimidating but generous man.

“He was a tough guy, he was such a tough guy that everyone’s scared of him – the whole harbour’s scared of him,” said sister-in-law Kalina Llanes, talking to KITV News. She added that those who knew him were “not scared of him because he has such a big heart.”

Swordfish are renowned for their speed and ferocity, and use their long, distinctive bills to slash their prey. They usually inhabit deeper waters, and are seldom found close to land. However, ancient Hawaii residents feared the swordfish because they attacked and sometimes pierced fishing canoes.