Penn, who incorporates frequent video blogs as part of his website, live streamed video footage of Hilo Bay on his website throughout the day. His videos were picked up by CNN and Fox News and broadcast to a worldwide viewing audience, and Penn was also interviewed by CNN regarding conditions in his area.
Though the tsunami was first expected to hit at 11 am local time, the islands had not suffered any damage as of one hour later, though there were reports of receding shorelines, an early sign of an impending tsunami strike.
The 31-year-old Penn -- a two-time UFC champion in two different weight classes -- lives in Hilo and is considered one of Hawaii's most famous athletes. He's always been among the more tech-savvy athletes in MMA, promoting his website in interviews dating back to his early days in the UFC.
He recently released an iPhone app that was a bestseller, and just a few days ago launched what he calls the "Penn Global Broadcasting Network" on his site, offering 90 channels of content.
"It's the biggest news in the world and it's coming from our iPhones," a member of Penn's entourage could be heard saying while shooting video of the bay.