VIDEO: Girl Injured in Shark Attack at Kahana, Maui
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-YDm1oi2Aw /] By Wendy Osher
(Update: 2:57 p.m., 6/26/12)
Officials with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources have since confirmed that the injury sustained by a teen in Maui waters, appears to have been caused by a small reef shark.
The girl told DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement that when she was bit she was sitting in nearshore waters with her dad in about 2 to 3 feet of water, and did not see anything.
Authorities say her dad was kneeling in the water next to her and felt something bump his lower back. Shortly thereafter, the girl said something had bitten her.
Both Maui County Ocean Safety and DLNR are responding according to standard shark incident protocols by posting warning signs and enforcing a temporary beach closure.
DLNR enforcement officers have been warning the public both on land and on jet skis in the area. The beach will be closed at least through sunset this evening. Officials will reassess the situation at that time to determine whether to reopen the affected area.
A 16-year-old girl from California was injured in what officials are calling a “possible shark” attack in Kahana this morning.
Authorities say the incident took place fronting the Hololani condominium located at 4401 Lower Honoapiilani Road at around 10 a.m.
The area is located about a third of a mile north of the popular surf spot at Pohaku Park or “S-turns.”
Maui County Ocean Safety and Maui Fire Department officers reported the victim having lacerations to her lower left calf, and described the wound as a three-to-five-inch missing “flap” or avulsion.
Fire personnel provided medical treatment and dressed the wound.
Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said the family denied medical transport, and instead the parents of the girl took their daughter by their own vehicle to seek treatment.
Ocean Safety and state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials are treating the incident as a possible shark attack and have closed the beach, even though no shark was sighted by responding crews.
Witnesses staying in the area did report seeing what they described as a five-foot shark swimming in nearshore waters last night around sunset. They also reported seeing a monk seal and turtles in the area yesterday.
“I didn’t see it this morning, but last night I was washing off some of the sand, and I turned around and I saw just a dorsal fin, and then my mom yelled ‘shark’,” said Isla Dubendorf, a visitor from Washington State.
“So I sprinted up the beach as fast as I could,” said Dubendorf of the sighting last night during sunset at around 6:45 p.m. Dubendorf described what she saw last night as about 5-feet in length and medium width.
“It was about a foot or two away from me, and so that’s why I ran really fast, because I was really scared.”
While walking down to the beach this morning, Dubendorf said she saw the commotion with all of the police officers on scene and learned that a girl got bitten while in the water.
“They said it was a smaller shark, so I don’t know if it was the same because it seemed kind of big yesterday.”
Dubendorf’s mother, Heather, said she was relieved it was not her own teenage daughter when she heard what had happened.
“I ran down there and unfortunately a girl did get bit—luckily it wasn’t Isla,” said Heather.
“I wasn’t really expecting to see a shark. I was expecting to see a lot of beautiful fish, which we have seen, and a monk seal out there, and lots of turtles, but the shark—it must be pretty rare, I don’t know,” Heather said of her sighting last night.
Both mother and daughter said they plan to do more snorkeling despite today’s incident in a different area of the island. “It’s beautiful here. Maui no ka oi,” said Dubendorf.