REPORT FROM DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES – Following the state’s shark response protocol, Maui nearshore waters from Little Beach to Makena Landing reopened today shortly after 12 noon, following morning on-water patrols by Maui County lifeguards and DLNR DOCARE enforcement officers. Maui County Fire Department’s helicopter also did a flyover. No sharks were seen.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and County lifeguards have closed waters off Makena State Recreation Area on Monday, December 2, following a fatal shark bite before 10:20 a.m. in which a man was bit while fishing from a kayak half a mile off a point near Little Beach.
A companion, also on a kayak, said the man was fishing with artificial lures to attract baitfish when his dangling foot was bit by a shark.
His fishing partner was about 500 yards away when the incident occurred, then paddled over, tied a tourniquet and asked a nearby charter tour boat for assistance. The boat brought the injured man to Kihei boat ramp from where he was transported to the hospital.
According to the Division of Aquatic Resources, this is the 13th reported shark incident statewide this year, and the 8th on Maui. Over the last 20 years, Hawaii has averaged about four unprovoked shark incidents per year (see https://www.hawaiisharks.org/incidentyear.html), but numbers per individual year are highly variable. There were no reported incidents in 1998, and just one in 2008. In 2012, the 10 incidents reported were at the time unprecedented.
“We are not sure why these bites are occurring more frequently than normal, especially around Maui. That’s why we are conducting a two-year study of shark behavior around Maui that may give us better insights,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “It is our hope and expectation that numbers of incidents will return to a more normal range in the near future.”
Aila continued, “We offer our condolences to the family of the victim. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
DLNR recommends following these safety precautions, adopted by the original Shark Task Force and updated slightly based on new understanding of shark behavior.
1. Swim, surf or dive with other people, and don’t move too far away from assistance.
2. Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed. But realize that sharks, especially tiger sharks, have been known to bite people any time of the day or night.
3. Do not enter the water if you have open wounds or are bleeding in any way. Sharks can detect blood and body fluids in extremely small concentrations.
4. Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances and areas near stream mouths (especially after heavy rains), channels or steep drop-offs. These types of waters are known to be frequented by sharks.
5. Do not wear high-contrast clothing or shiny jewelry. Sharks see contrast very well.
6. Refrain from excessive splashing; keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are known to be attracted to such activity.
7. Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present. Leave the water quickly and calmly if one is sighted. Do not provoke or harass a shark, even a small one.
8. If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. Avoid swimming near dolphins, as they are prey for some large sharks.
9. Remove speared fish from the water or tow them a safe distance behind you. Do not swim near people fishing or spear fishing. Stay away from dead animals in the water.
10. Swim or surf at beaches patrolled by lifeguards and follow their advice.
For more information go to Hawaii Sharks website www.hawaiisharks.org