Visiting shark attack off Maui

Maui Shark Attack Update

We just received a status update on yesterday’s Maui shark attack, which occurred Saturday afternoon in Paia Bay on Maui’s north shore.

The visitor involved was a 51-year-old woman from France. Ocean visibility was reported to be low, with cloudy conditions. The diver was believed to be about 100 feet from shore when she was attacked. The woman has not yet been identified by name or interviewed by authorities. DLNR said her bite was “serious.”

Typically, when a shark attack occurs, the warning signs are removed within about 24 hours. Today, however, the state’s DLNR decided to leave several of the beach parks, from Taveres Bay to Baldwin Beach, closed through Monday morning.

The incident occurred at Paia Beach Park.

Sharks in Hawaii.

You are not at all likely to experience a shark attack in Hawaii. Statistically, the odds are 1 in 11.5 million. Having said that, shark attacks are obviously not unheard of, and the sightings are much more frequent.

With nearly 40 types of sharks here in Hawaii, the ones you’re most likely to see are reef, sandbar, hammerhead, or tiger.

Tiger shark tagging in Hawaii.

UH Manoa tracks tiger sharks in Hawaii and follows their movement through satellite tags on their dorsal fins. You can find the latest sightings using that link. It is fascinating. This is an ongoing project by biologists at UH that has been in the works for the last five years and serves to better understand the habitat and behavior of tiger sharks.

Sharks in Hawaii are important to our diverse marine environment.

Sharks are apex predators, with nearly a third threatened or near threatened. They play a vital role in maintaining the health of species in the food chain and are a further indication of the health of our oceans. They serve to weed out sick and weak competitors and balance those needed for healthy ocean diversity.

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Sharks in Hawaiian mythology.

Sharks have long been considered aumakua, or guardians of the family, and reincarnated souls who are protectors.

What to do when diving.

Have you ever seen a shark snorkeling? None of us have, though we’ve seen them swimming, and that’s scary enough.

1. Look for security. That could be heading to places sharks avoid, like corals, or it could mean heading to the shallowest waters possible. That is if going out completely is not possible.

2. Keep calm on the move. Avoid appearing distressed (don’t splash!) as this can agitate a shark. Much harder to do than to say, as editor Jeff practically freaked out when a fast-moving green sea turtle swam right into his face. If it had been a shark, all bets are off.

3. If you are being literally attacked, you can try to attack towards the face of the shark. Hopefully, it is not necessary.

4. Sharks are attracted to fishing activity, or can be found near seals and dolphins, so avoid being near them.

5. Don’t snorkel alone. Many of you said that in our recent article on snorkel deaths.

6. Avoid cloudy ocean conditions. This can be caused by a variety of conditions, but it is a sign that the snorkeling will not be good and the danger may increase.

7. Late afternoon can be riskier. Such was the case at hand here.

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