UPDATE: 3rd Shark Encounter on Maui Prompts Beach Closure
By Wendy Osher
***UPDATE 12:44 p.m. 10/23/14: The closure related to Wednesday’s (10/22/14) shark incident off Waipuʻilani Beach Park has been lifted. Waters are now open in this area. Nothing further was observed that would warrant the continuation of the closure.
For the third time this week, a stretch of Maui shoreline is closed due to a reported shark encounter in murky waters, state officials said.
Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say two women from Kīhei, ages 53 and 46, were stand-up paddle boarding about 200 yards off Waipuʻilani Beach Park, in five to six feet of water when one of the women saw a shark approaching the other’s board.
The woman told Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers that a tiger shark knocked her friend into the water when it bit the tail part of her board, and that she only saw the shark’s dorsal fin and head, which she believes was about two feet wide.
Beaches are closed from the old Suda’s Store near Kenolio Recreational Center to Kalama Park in South Maui for the remainder of the day.
This is the third beach closure due to reported shark sightings since Saturday.
- On Monday, Oct. 20, a 58-year-old man was stand up paddle boarding at Kahului Harbor when a shark reportedly bit the man’s board.
- On Saturday, Oct. 18, a surfer fended off a shark attack at Māʻalaea. In that incident, park officials say a 12 to 14 foot shark bit the man’s board.
No injuries were reported in either of the first two incidents. In all three cases, DLNR officials say the water was brown or murky as a result of Hurricane Ana that passed through the islands over the weekend.
“We are fortunate that no one was hurt in any of these encounters,” said DLNR Chair William Aila in a press release statement this afternoon. “They should serve as a reminder to stay out of areas that continue to experience runoff and murky water,” he said.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the beaches for one mile in either direction of the sighting, and will reassess the situation on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.