Maui Woman Bitten in Deadly Shark Incident was Avid Swimmer
By Wendy Osher
Friends and family are mourning the loss of a Kīhei woman who died in an apparent shark attack at the ʻĀhihi Kīnaʻu Natural Area Reserve on Wednesday. Friends say 65-year-old Margaret “Margo” Cruse used to work as a volunteer interpretive guide at the very reserve where she lost her life.
Authorities say Cruse was found unresponsive in water about 200 yards offshore at the Kanahena surf spot often referred to as “Dumps.” She had been snorkeling with two other friends, but at some point became separated from them. Fire officials say she suffered injuries to her upper torso that suggest she was bitten by a shark. An official cause of death is pending an autopsy report.
Friend Sarah Bott who used to serve as the volunteer coordinator for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said Cruse was one of the first people to sign up as a volunteer at the reserve. “She loved the ocean and spent many hours helping visitors learn about the marine environment. She was an extremely experienced swimmer and snorkeler. She had the ultimate respect for ocean creatures, including sharks. Her spirit is now at rest in a special place that she loved and worked to protect.”
Other friends attested to Cruse’s experience in the water calling her “an excellent swimmer who was in the water almost every day.” Friends say “she knew the risks” and died doing what she loved to do.
During her work as a volunteer at the reserve, Cruse spent time interacting with the many visitors who came to the area to venture out or snorkel.
“It’s a popular attraction these days because of guidebooks such as Maui Revealed. It is, however, a wild place, and heavily impacted by the number of visitors. In addition to showing people how to enter the water in a reef-friendly way,” by not stepping on coral, Bott said, “Margo assisted in marine debris removal and rescuing turtles caught in plastic line.”
Those who knew Cruse described her as “an experienced long distance ocean swimmer,” and “avid snorkeler.”
“She knew the ocean in that area extremely well,” said Bott. “She will be missed by her friends at ʻĀhihi Kīnaʻu, and the many visitors she helped over the years.”