Female Snorkeler Bitten by Shark in Kīhei, Maui

October 14, 2016, 1:05 PM HST · Updated October 14, 4:17 PM
Wendy Osher · 111 Comments
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Shark sighting signs posted at Kamaole III, 10.14.16. Background photo: Nik Izbicki. Maui Now graphics.

Shark sighting signs posted at Kamaole III, 10.14.16. Background photo: Nik Izbicki. Maui Now graphics.

A female snorkeler suffered injuries to her lower left leg in a shark bite incident this morning (Friday, Oct. 14, 2016) off of Charley Young Beach in Kīhei.

The incident was reported just before 10 a.m. in waters about 40 feet from shore and seven feet deep.

Shark warning signs were posted this morning by Maui County Ocean Safety lifeguards and Department of Land and Natural Resources staff on the Kīhei coastline from Kalama Park to Kamaʻole Beach Park III.

State officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources say ocean conditions were calm, but somewhat murky.

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The victim, a part-time Maui resident, was transported to a hospital for further treatment.

Staff from DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and Division of Aquatic Resources remained on scene at last report.  They are assisting Maui Ocean Safety personnel with jet ski patrols in the area, warning ocean users of the incident.

Following the state’s shark response protocol, warning signs will remain up until noon on Saturday, at which time the situation will be re-assessed.

Based on data for the 35 year period ending in 2015, October is the month with the greatest number of shark bites, according to the Division of Aquatics Resources.

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Additional Information – Maui Fire Department Press Release:

At 9:50 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, emergency crews in South Maui responded to Charley Young Beach for a person being brought to shore and who was bleeding from the leg.

Ocean Safety lifeguards from Kamaole Beach I were on scene at 9:55 a.m. and treated a 66-year-old female visitor from Washington State for injuries to her left leg. The woman is also a part-time resident in Kihei. There were no witnesses that could confirm a shark sighting during the incident, but the woman’s injuries appear consistent with that of a shark bite, fire officials said.

Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said bystanders on shore heard the woman yelling for help about 20-30 yards offshore, between Charley Young Beach and Cove Park. A male visitor from Washington State swam out to assist the woman. A nearby standup paddle boarder also heard the commotion and came to her aid.

The woman as pulled onto the board and brought back to shore.

Two nurses and a firefighter vacationing from the mainland began treating the woman before ocean safety lifeguards arrived and took over. Paramedics treated the woman and transported her to Maui Memorial Medical Center in serious condition.

The woman was reportedly snorkeling when the incident occurred.

Shark warning signs have been posted along the coastline between Kamaʻole Beach III and the area fronting the tennis courts at Kalama Park. Maui County ocean safety personnel and Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement officers from the State Department of Land and Natural Resources have been informing ocean users to keep out of the ocean until noon Saturday.

Officials with DLNR DOCARE and Maui County will jointly reassess the decision to remove the shark warning signs at noon tomorrow.

Below is a list of the most recent shark bite incidents off of Maui:

Shark bite report at Charley Young Beach in South Maui. Maui Now graphics.

Shark bite report at Charley Young Beach in South Maui. Maui Now graphics.

5 Maui Shark Bite Incidents so far in 2016:

  • October 14, 2016, 10 a.m.: A female snorkeler suffered injuries to her lower left leg in a shark bite incident this morning (Friday, Oct. 14, 2016) off of Charly Young Beach in Kīhei.
  • August 6, 2016, 4:30 p.m.: Maui stand-up paddleboarder, Connor Baxter was using a SUP hydrofoil when the long foil attached to his SUP board was bit by a tiger shark, estimated to be 10 feet long.  The incident was reported in the Hamakuapoko area of Pā‘ia, about one mile from shore.  DLNR officials say the incident occurred in 40-50 feet of water that was described as being turbid.
  • May 3, 2016, 3:50 p.m.: A 59-year-old man suffered minor lacerations to his right shoulder while floating in waters off of Wailea Beach about 40 yards from shore in 15-20 feet of turbid water.  The species and length of the shark is unknown.
  • March 31, 2016, 11 a.m.: A 46-year old female visitor was snorkeling with a commercial tour when a shark bit her snorkel fin.  The incident occurred in Olowalu, approximately 400-450 yards from shore in 15-20 feet of turbid water. (J. Orr).  Authorities say the woman sustained a minor laceration to left foot. The shark was described as a tiger shark, measuring approximately 8 feet long.
  • Jan. 23, 2016, 10:30 a.m.: Wailea Beach Point, 150-200 yards from shore. A 10-12 foot shark bit the tail of a paddleboard being operated by a stand-up paddleboarder in 30 feet of water during clear conditions.  The shark was a 10-12 foot Tiger shark.

3 Maui Shark Bite Incidents in 2015:

  • Oct. 31, 2015, 3:30 p.m.: Lāna‘i, Po‘aīwa Beach, approx 300 yards from shore Spearfishing Turbid est 25 ft Confidential. No injury; shark bit weight belt. Considered a provoked incident due to activity.  Tiger shark, length 10-12 feet.
  • April 29, 2015, est. 8:30 a.m. ʻĀhihi Kīnaʻu Bay, Kanahena Point, approx 200 yards from shore Snorkeling Turbid 20-35 ft M. Cruse. Fatal. Severe deep lacerations to right shoulder and underarm; minor lacerations to right arm and right side of face. Species and length unknown.
  • Jan. 27, 2015, 3:30 a.m.: Maui, Pali scenic lookout Fishing Turbid on shore M. Pollard. Lacerations to left calf. Considered a provoked incident due to activity. Reef shark, species unknown, length 4 feet.

5 Maui Shark Bite Incidents in 2014:

  • Nov. 13, 2014: A 50 year old Homer, Alaska man, snorkeling in the ocean off ofKahekili “Airport” Beach in the Kāʻanapali area of West Maui, reported being bitten by a shark at around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014.
  • Oct. 22, 2014: A Kīhei woman who was standup paddle boarding approximately 200 yards offshore in 6 feet of water at Waipuʻilani Beach Park reported that a tiger shark knocked her into the water and bit the tail portion of her board.
  • Oct. 20, 2014: a 58-year-old man was stand up paddle boarding at Kahului Harbor when a shark reportedly bit the man’s board.
  • Oct. 18, 2014: 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.
  • July 16, 2014: 5:20 p.m. at Pāʻia Bay, 200-250 yards from shore in 15 to 20 feet of water.  A swimmer reported being bitten by a 6 to 7 foot reef shark and sustained lacerations to his left foot.

8 Maui Shark Bite Incidents in 2013:

  • Dec. 2, 2013: 10:20 a.m. in Mākena, approximately 900 yards from shore in about 100 feet of water.  A man who was fishing from a kayak died after sustaining a severe deep laceration and loss of tissue on right calf.  State officials say they consider the encounter a provoked incident due to activity.  The species and length of the shark is unknown.
  • Nov. 29, 2013: 1 p.m. in Kīhei at Keawakapu, approximately 30-40 yards from shore in 10 to 15 feet of water.  A snorkeler sustained a severe laceration to their right inner calf, as well as minor lacerations and puncture wounds to the right shin and ankle.  State officials say the species and length of the shark is unknown.
  • October 31, 2013, at Ka’a Point in Central Maui: A kite surfer suffered injuries to his right leg and calf in an apparent shark attack incident about 300 yards offshore.
  • October 23, 2013, off of Kukona Place in Waiehu: Shane Mills of Maui suffered a laceration to his lower back and left thigh in an apparent shark bite incident.
  • August 14, 2013, at Palauea Beach, also known as White Rock in Māken: Jana Lutteropp, a 20-year-old German woman had her arm severed in a shark attack incident and died a week later on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
  • July 31, 2013, at Ulua Beach in Wailea: Evonne Cashman of California suffered puncture wounds to both surfaces of right side of torso and lacerations to right hand while swimming approximately 125 yards from shore.
  • April 2, 2013, 8:20 a.m. at Kā’anapali, Honokōwai: A surfer reportedly suffered lacerations to their right leg after an encounter with a reef shark approx 100 yards from shore in six feet of water, according to state data.
  • February 21, 2013, at Pāʻia Bay: A reef shark reportedly bit the rail of a foam surfboard while J. Lansky was surfing approximately 75 yards from shore in 5 to 8 feet of water, according to the state data.
  • The Hawaii Sharks website is used to document confirmed shark encounters, and “does not include encounters in which a shark does not actually bite a person or board, nor incidents classified by the International Shark Attack File as boat attacks, scavenge, or doubtful.”
  • *Supporting information courtesy: State Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Shark Incidents Peak This Time of Year, Caution Advised

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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