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Visitor Shark Attack On Maui | What To Do When Snorkeling

We just received an update from the state regarding yesterday’s Maui shark attack, which occurred late on Saturday afternoon in Paia Bay on Maui’s north shore.

The visitor involved was a 51-year-old woman visiting from France. It was reported that the ocean visibility was low, with murky conditions. The snorkeler was believed to have been about 100 feet offshore when she was attacked. The woman hasn’t yet been identified by name or interviewed by authorities. DLNR said that her bite was “serious,” while other reports said she is in critical condition.

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

The incident occurred at Paia Beach Park.

Sharks in Hawaii.

It is not at all likely you will experience a shark attack in Hawaii. Statistically, odds are 1 in 11.5 million. Having said that, obviously shark attacks aren’t unheard of, and sightings are far more frequent.

With almost 40 kinds of sharks here in Hawaii, those you are most likely to see are of the reef, sandbar, hammerhead, or tiger varieties.

Tiger shark tagging in Hawaii.

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

Sharks in Hawaii are important to our diverse marine environment.

Sharks are apex predators, and nearly a third are either threatened or nearly so. They have a vital role in maintaining the health of species in the food chain and are a further indication of our ocean health. They serve to remove sick and weak and balance competitors needed for healthy ocean diversity.

Sharks in Hawaiian mythology.

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

Shocking TikTok video.

@mermaid.kayleigh

Replying to @julsss1324 this is extremely rare but #sharks are #wildanimals & top #predators so they are unpredictable. Only #swimwithsharks with a professional sharkdiver. We show you these videos in case you’re ever in this rare emergency situation by yourself. We want everyone to stay safe with sharks. #sharkdiving #sharkdiver #sharkdive #oahu #hawaii #ocean #tigershark I AM A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL DO NOT ATTEMPT

♬ оригинальный звук – нет

What to do when snorkeling.

Have you ever seen a shark when snorkeling? Neither of us has, although we have seen them when swimming, and that’s frightening enough.

1. Look for safety. That could be heading towards places that sharks avoid such as coral, or it might mean heading to the shallowest water possible. That is if getting out entirely isn’t possible.

2. Remain calm in motion. Avoid appearing to be in distress (don’t splash!) as this can agitate a shark. Much harder to do than to say, as editor Jeff virtually freaked out when a fast-moving green sea turtle swam right towards his face. If it had been a shark, all bets are off.

3. If you are being attacked, literally, you can try to attack back towards the shark’s face. Hopefully, not needed.

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

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

6. Avoid murky ocean conditions. This can be caused by a variety of conditions but is a sign that snorkeling won’t be good, and danger can be increased.

7. Late in the afternoon may be riskier. Such was the case in point here.

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Visitor Shark Attack On Maui | What To Do When Snorkeling”

  1. In 12 years of snorkeling in Hawaii, I’ve only seen a shark one time–in 2021 at 2 Step on the Big Island. My wife and I were swimming parallel to the shore and the white-tipped reef shark passed in front of us a few feet, headed straight to the shore. We were a little concerned about other people, but nothing happened. It was a bit of a thrill to me, but not to my wife!

  2. The chance for getting attacked by a tiger shark on Maui is pretty good. Hawaii’s economy is not driven by pineapples and sugarcane. Their economy is supported by and depends on tourism. I grew up in Hawaii and knew as a youngster not to even get in the water on Maui!

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  3. It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed so many visitors are, to swim or snorkel in murky waters. After heavy rain, one would want to stay clear of areas where the runoff enters the ocean as the debris seems to attract sharks.

    Was this poor souls snorkeling alone? No mention of family or friends with her. One would never, ever wisely snorkel alone.

    The oceanic variant les in Hawaii are different than many other places. The tips y’all gave about snorkeling in a previous article were very good. Prayers for this woman’s recovery.

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    1. Completely agree Cindy. Last year there was a big rainstorm in the Kihei area. There was so much rain it was actually washing cars into the ocean. The ocean was brown with filth. Things like dead carcasses, oil and all kinds of garbage were in the ocean. That kind of garbage tends to draw predictors into the beach. I was talking to a native woman and we couldn’t believe all the nutty people in the water. Not only could you get bitten but you can get very sick too.

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  4. I have been fortunate (unfortunate?) to have seen numerous black and white-tipped sharks at Black Rock. The first time scared the bejeezit out of me – it was swimming towards me about 20 feet below me.
    I stopped swimming so as to not splash and tried to hide my jewelry.
    Once it went past me I swam slowly keeping my fins below water to prevent splashing.
    Since then I have had numerous sightings but these have all had the sharks down by the sand.
    Certainly scary the first time, but exciting each time thereafter.

    Thanks for keeping me jonesing for the islands with informative articles. Look forward to them every day.

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  5. When I lived on Oahu not too long ago they still had shark feeding tours for the tourists. I think they outlawed that on Oahu. I do hope it’s also not legal to do that on Maui. Nothing good can happen from sharks learning to expect food from humans.

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  6. Over the years we have gone snorkeling with sharks many times. Mostly white and black tipped reef sharks, and a few hammerheads. That tip about not splashing around on the water surface is a very good one. That’s what a fish does when it gets in trouble. Reef sharks tend to be territorial. When they put their pectoral fins down and then get a humped look it’s time to leave. That’s when they are being territorial. If you obey a few simple rules you’re unlikely to be attacked. One of the big rules is to stay out of murky or sandy water. Frequently a shark cannot tell what it is biting at in water that is hard to see in. Maui seems to have that problem more than the other islands. If you see a tiger shark it is also time to leave.

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  7. This poor woman lost an arm and was also mauled, not sure why it’s only being reported as a “serious bite” other than to avoid alarming tourists.

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