Maui News

Shark Sighting Temporarily Closes Mākena Beach

October 4, 2017, 6:02 PM HST
* Updated October 4, 9:00 PM
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Shark Sighting sign. Maui Now file image.

Maui County lifeguards at Mākena State Park closed the beach and directed swimmers to exit the water because of a shark sighting shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.

A man and woman were spearfishing about 100 yards from shore on the north end of Big Beach when they were approached by an 8- to 10-foot Galapagos shark displaying aggressive behavior.

The shark circled the freedivers and their dive float, and eventually took their catch of fish.

The shark continued to circle the divers so they abandoned the dive float and headed back to shore.

On their swim toward shore, the shark continued to follow them all the way to the beach.

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Once ocean safety personnel were notified of the incident, lifeguards launched a rescue watercraft and began informing swimmers along the shoreline of the shark sighting and beach closure.

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Lifeguards also retrieved the dive float and returned it to the divers.

A conservation officer from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, arrived at the scene at 4:45 p.m.

The beach was reopened at around 6:30 p.m. without further incident.

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This is the second shark sighting at Mākena within a two-week span. Another incident was reported on Sept. 21 after an aggressive shark stole the fish catch of two men spearfishing offshore. The fisherman in that incident said they believed the shark to be a seven-foot Galapagos shark.

Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say that for centuries, traditional Hawaiian chants have warned about an increased risk of shark bites in the fall, when the wiliwili tree blooms. DLNR data shows that from Jan. 1, 2014 to Sept. 22, 2017, 27 shark incidents have occurred that involve a shark biting a board or person in Hawaiian waters. Of the 27 incidents, 16 or 69% of the incidences happened between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31.

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