Spear Fishermen Chased Out of Water by “Hungry Shark”
By Wendy Osher
Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the shoreline in Mākena for the remainder of the day, “due to a report of a large shark exhibiting aggressive behavior which chased two spear fishermen out of the water.”
The closure went into effect shortly before noon and includes a two mile stretch of shoreline from the “Dumps” surf spot in La Perouse to Mākena Landing, including the area of ʻĀhihi-Kīnaʻu.
State officials say the initial report made by the divers to lifeguards at the beach park, was that an 8- to 10-foot Galapagos shark made several passes at them while they were spearfishing close to shore off Oneuli or Black Sand beach at Mākena.
“They tried to fend it off with their spears but the shark kept coming, so they let it take their catch of speared fish and headed back,” arriving on shore at Puʻuōlaʻi or Little Beach, state officials said.
DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement Chief Randy Awo issued a statement saying, “We are closing the beach because of the reported aggressive behavior of the shark that was made to lifeguards. This is occurring in the same vicinity of Monday’s fatal shark bite incident.”
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 Molokini 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.
Awo continued, “Beachgoers, swimmers, fishers/divers are advised to comply with this closure in the interest of public safety. The state recommends that spear fishermen with speared fish on a line should be extra cautious.”
State conservation officers are responding by investigating the incident, and are working with Maui County Ocean Safety lifeguards to post signs indicating a shark was sighted, and notify the public to keep out of the water.
The closure remains in effect until sunset. Officials say DLNR officers will make an assessment at the end of day to determine whether to maintain the closure from sunrise tomorrow until noon, per the state shark response protocol.
According to the Division of Aquatic Resources, Monday’s fatal encounter was the 13th reported shark incident statewide this year, and the eighth in Maui waters.