Yesterday’s shark attack on Maui brought the Women’s Pro Surfing Contest to a halt on its second day at Honolua Bay. The 56-year-old victim needed surgery and is from Lahaina. We wish him a complete recovery. Whenever a sighting or attack happens, the area is closed for 24 hours. The competition is expected to resume later today. Near the end of this post is a video filmed at the time of the encounter.
Honolua Bay Has One of the Best Surf Breaks on Maui.
In winter this is the place to go if you like to surf. The bay is located north of Kapalua on West Maui. It is part of the Marine Life Conservation District which means, “no fishing.” That also means the bay is teeming with fish. The boat ramp is the easiest place to enter the bay from the rocky shoreline. Honolua means “two harbors” and the area has significant cultural and historical value in Hawaii.
This is the third shark attack on Maui since September. The two earlier encounters involved swimmers.
On November 26, there was a shark attack also on West Maui at Honkowai. A woman from California was swimming 100 yards offshore when she was bit. Then on September 21, a 61-year-old swimmer at Charlie Young Beach in Kihei was attacked 120 yards offshore. She felt a bite but did not see a shark.
Your Beat of Hawaii editors are regular distance swimmers. Especially at Hanalei during summer. We have been fortunate never to have encountered a shark in the water, while we have seen them from the shoreline. Although one time Rob felt something grab his foot and thought it was a shark. It turned out to be another swimmer who got too close. He really freaked out at first, however, although he reported staying calm.
What you need to know about sharks in Hawaii.
Should you fear shark attacks here in Hawaii? It’s unlikely you will experience a shark attack on your Hawaii vacation, and in fact, the statistical odds are 1 in 11.5 million. And, while rare at Hawaii Beaches, it’s good to remember that shark sightings can occur anywhere in Hawaii.
How to follow Hawaii tiger shark tagging.
At UH Manoa, marine biologists track the movement of Hawaii tiger sharks that are fitted with satellite tags on their dorsal fins. Signals are received each time a shark surfaces. Marine biologists have been working on this for the past four years. They seek insights into the behavior and habitat of these revered creatures. Scientists are utilizing the latest in satellite tagging systems.
On their website, you can see various sightings of sharks in the Hawaiian Islands.
Sharks’ important role in healthy marine environments.
Sharks are known as apex predators. They play a key role in maintaining the species below them in the food chain and serve as an indicator of ocean health. Sharks help remove the weak and sick as well as keeping a balance with competitors to help ensure diversity of species.
One-third of all shark species are threatened or near-threatened.
Sharks figure prominently in Hawaiian mythology.
Culturally, sharks have been held in high reverence by generations of Hawaiians as aumakua (family guardians); ancestors reincarnated as animals and sent to protect the family.
Photo credit: UH Manoa.
Updated December 9, 2020.