UPDATE: Swimmer Injured in Possible Shark Encounter at Wailea Beach
Update: 12:40 p.m. 5/4/16. DLNR has since re-opened beaches that were closed following yesterday’s possible shark encounter in Wailea.
Following morning surveillance by County fire helicopter, the Maui coastline from Chang’s Beach to Keawekapu Beach was reopened at noon. No further shark sighting was reported.
DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources is still considering yesterday’s incident involving a 59-year old swimmer as a possible shark bite as the investigation is still underway. No witness information was available as to possible type or size of a shark involved.
A 59-year-old man suffered lacerations to his shoulder in a possible shark encounter at Wailea Beach fronting the Grand Wailea on Tuesday afternoon, May 3, 2016. The incident, reported at 3:49 p.m., forced the closure of the beach from Poʻolenalena “Chang’s” Beach to Keawakapu Beach near the Mana Kai in Kīhei.
Authorities say the man was about 30-40 yards off shore and was on his back in a flotation device when he was bit. The victim suffered a laceration to his right shoulder; however, police say the injury was not life-threatening. He was taken by medics to Maui Memorial Medical Center for further treatment.
An officer with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement measured the bite mark on the man’s raft as approximately 16 inches across. A DOCARE officer went to the hospital to speak to the victim and obtain photos of bite marks to determine if they are consistent with shark bite.
Maui County Ocean Safety deployed two jetskis in the ocean to warn ocean users of the encounter.
Standard protocol of response agencies is to re-evaluate the ocean waters in the morning for any presence of sharks before reopening the beaches. DOCARE will be responding to the area.
Maui Police have classified the case as a miscellaneous accident.