By Wendy Osher
(11:33 a.m. 12/4/13)
Crews from the Department of Land and Natural Resources closed a portion of beach near Puʻuōlaʻi in Mākena following a shark sighting by divers in the area on Wednesday morning, officials tell Maui Now.
The stretch of beach will be closed until sunset this evening from the “Dumps” surf spot in La Perouse to Mākena Landing as a precautionary measure.
Officials tell Maui Now that some divers in the area who were approached by a shark, notified authorities of the incident. Authorities say the sighting occurred closer to shore than the fatal shark bite incident offshore of Mākena on Monday morning.
The victim from Monday’s incident was later identified as 57-year-old Patrick A. Briney, of Washington State. Authorities say he was fishing from a kayak between Maui and Molokaʻi when his foot was bitten by a shark.
The incident was the second fatal shark attack in Maui waters this year and comes following the death of German visitor, Jana Lutteropp in August at Maui’s Palauea Beach in Mākena.
According to the Division of Aquatic Resources, this is the thirteenth reported shark incident statewide this year, and the eighth in Maui waters. The agency notes that over the last 20 years, Hawaiʻi has averaged about four unprovoked shark incidents per year, but numbers per individual year are “highly variable.”
There were no reported incidents in 1998, and just one in 2008, according to the DLNR. In 2012, the 10 incidents reported were at the time unprecedented, the report states.
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.