By Wendy Osher
A portion of shoreline in South Maui is closed following a shark attack reported in the area of Keawekapu Beach on Friday afternoon.
County officials say the incident occurred at around 1:20 p.m. and involved a female victim who sustained non-fatal injuries.
Officials with the Maui Department of Parks and Recreation and state Department of Land and Natural Resources say the beach is closed for one-mile in either direction from the Four Seasons resort in Wailea to the Kīhei Boat Ramp until noon tomorrow.
DLNR staff will conduct an assessment in the morning.
DLNR staff posted shark warning signs at publicly-accessible areas and warn beach goers and ocean users, said Laura Stevens, an outreach coordinator with the DLNR.
“Shark warning signs will remain up until Saturday morning assessment. If no sharks are sighted, the warning signs will come down and waters will be reopened by noon,” said Stevens.
DLNR officials say no information was immediately available on size and type of the shark.
Seven of the 12 confirmed shark attack incidents reported so far this year on the state’s Hawaii Sharks website were around Maui waters including the following encounters:
- October 31, 2013, at Ka’a Point in Central Maui: A kite surfer suffered injuries to his right leg and calf in an apparent shark attack incident about 300 yards offshore.
- October 23, 2013, off of Kukona Place in Waiehu: Shane Mills of Maui suffered a laceration to his lower back and left thigh in an apparent shark bite incident.
- August 14, 2013, at Palauea Beach, also known as White Rock in Māken: Jana Lutteropp, a 20-year-old German woman had her arm severed in a shark attack incident and died a week later on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
- July 31, 2013, at Ulua Beach in Wailea: Evonne Cashman of California suffered puncture wounds to both surfaces of right side of torso and lacerations to right hand while swimming approximately 125 yards from shore.
- February 21, 2013, at Kā’anapali, Honokōwai: A surfer reportedly suffered lacerations to their right leg after an encounter with a reef shark approx 100 yards from shore in six feet of water, according to state data.
- February 21, 2013, at Pāʻia Bay: A reef shark reportedly bit the rail of a foam surfboard while J. Lansky was surfing approximately 75 yards from shore in 5 to 8 feet of water, according to the state data.
The Hawaii Sharks website is used to document confirmed shark encounters, and “does not include encounters in which a shark does not actually bite a person or board, nor incidents classified by the International Shark Attack File as boat attacks, scavenge, or doubtful.”
Last month, the DLNR launched the $186,000, two-year study to focus on tiger shark movements around Maui, and compared their behavior to that of known movement patterns around the other main Hawaiian islands.
The data will be used to help determine whether sharks around Maui are more resident than they are around other islands, and whether they exhibit greater use of inshore habitats than in other locations, according to information posted on a new web tracking page.
***Check back for further details, which will be posted when they become available.