Reasons behind increased shark attacks off Maui

Shark in Hawaiian waters (photo by Terry Lilly)
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Shark in Hawaiian waters (photo by Terry Lilley)

By Terry Lilley – Notice all the shark attacks lately off the island of Maui?

I know why they are happening. I have been buzzed by 18-foot hammer heads, Galapagos sharks, aggressive sand bar sharks and tiger sharks all within the last year while spear fishing or kayak fishing.


Just ask the dive shop owners. The increase in spear fishing has more than tripled in the last few years. It has become very popular and the sharks know it.

The sharks are learning to follow spear fishermen and kayak fishermen to get a free meal. I have had many fish taken by these sharks right off the end of my spear, including an attempt on Thanksgiving day.

We fishermen should rotate where we spear fish. If you go out at the same places every time, the sharks will wait for humans to catch their food for them. They look at a kayak or spear gun as a source for food.

I do not spear fish at Tunnels off Kauai any longer because the one 10-foot female Galapagos follows me around like a puppy waiting for me to spear a fish and then she steals it. If my arm is in the way, I would be bit.

Shark in Hawaiian waters (photo by Terry Lilley)

In old Hawaiian times, fishermen rotated where they fished so the sharks would not be trained by the people as to where they are going to find dinner.

The sharks never try to harm humans and I have made friends with a number of large sharks that I dive with and video. They are just doing what sharks should do. Eat wounded fish. Killing the sharks would be stupid and would ruin our marine ecosystem.

If you feed the neighborhood dogs free steaks everyday at the park, you better believe the dogs will be there waiting for you. They will soon jump right in your car window to get food.

We need to rotate where we fish like the Hawaiians have done for thousands of years.

Terry Lilley is a resident of Kauai.





  1. Well it's a reason but it's not the reason how many of the bite victims were spear fishermen ( 0 ) maui has unbalanced the cycle . i've speared fish for many years and have been brushed many times normally the increase of humans in the water decreases the number of sharks in an area and since getting brushed while spear fishing hasn't changed what has and none of those who got bit recently were spearfishing so lets go back in the past 10-15 years what has changed . Maui has gone on a crusade against fishing the theory of those banning most types of fishing is fish are meant to be seen not eaten . we Hawaiians have been fishing in these waters for thousands of years therefore we are part of the balance of the near shore fisheries we know how to manage the fisheries and keep the balance but since the tourist industry has become the main source of income they would rather close down the Hawaiian ways of fishing so now the balance shifting back to what it was thousands of years ago .this happened in Florida they banned all use of gillnetts a few years later shark attacks increased . btw the head line says REASONS and they gave only 1 reason if the reporter would like to sit down and have an in-depth talk i can help them find all the data they need . i am also willing to debate anyone on this subject to me what i see in this report is we need to ban all spear fishing so spear fishermen be careful looks like they just opened the door to try to ban spearfishing in maui . and let me clear something up about wether sharks bit Hawaiians in the past yes they did sharks are sharks they don't think like people this was one of the lessons i learned from HAIRUM KAMANA one of the great kupuna of our times .

  2. Let's be serious, is Maui the only island that allows spear fishing, or yack fishing ? NO Are we surrounded by other islands where resident are doing the exact same things we are doing ? YES So why here ? Nobody knows, and we won't know either. Humans need answers, even if wrong. So listen if it makes you feel better. Otherwise, Go enjoy Maui for what it is. The best place to live I've ever found !

  3. repeat after me slowly, do not swim when the whales are biiirrrthingggg, toooo much blooood in the waaaaater, when did we unlearn this lesson taught by the last 7-15 generations of hawaiians?

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