Maui was the site of a fatal shark attack on Monday morning, as a tourist fishing from a kayak half of a mile off shore of a point close to Little Beach in the Makena State Recreation Area was killed.
The 57-year-old victim, Patrick Briney, of Stevenson, Washington, was fishing for bait fish with artificial lures when, according to the his companion, a shark bit off Briney’s foot, which had been dangling over the edge of the boat. Both people were in kayaks when the attack occurred. Briney’s uninjured friend paddled 500 yards to reach the victim, at which point he fastened a tourniquet around the man’s leg in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
A tour boat in the area responded to the man’s cries for help and brought the victim in to shore where he was then taken to a hospital. A spokesman for the County of Maui’s Mayor’s Office, Rod Antone, said that according to authorities, Briney likely died on the boat journey.
The waters off of the Makena State Recreation Area were closed after the attack although beaches remained open. The Department of Land and Natural Resources have advised that people stay on shore and out of the water. If no sharks are spotted in the area by Tuesday at noon, the recreation area will be reopened.
Monday’s shark attack in Maui that killed a fisherman marked the 13th reported in Hawaii this year. Eight of those reports came from Maui. According to the DNLR, the average number of unprovoked shark attacks in Hawaii each year is four. The year 2012 also saw a much higher than average reported incidents with 10 reported attacks.
William J. Aila, Jr, chairman of the DNLR, stated that due to the higher frequency of shark attacks around Maui, a two-year, $186,000 study of shark behavior around that island is being conducted. The study began in November and is focusing on the movement of tiger sharks around the island of Maui. Researches intend to compare the behavior of Maui’s tiger sharks to patterns of movement seen around the remaining Hawaiian islands.
Movement data will enable researchers to determine if Maui’s sharks are habituated more around Maui than the other islands and if they use inshore habitats more around Maui than they do in on the other islands.
Aila said that authorities hope and expect “that numbers of incidents will return to a more normal range in the near future.” In the meantime, the agency has posted on its website a list of actions that should and should not be taken in order to avoid being attacked by a shark. The site also warns that there is a greater risk of shark attack according to the month, and that October through December appears to be the riskiest time to be in the ocean.
Monday’s fatal shark attack that killed a man simply fishing in Maui is the 2nd to occur in Hawaii this year. In August, Jana Lutteropp, a German tourist, died after being attacked by a shark at Maui’s Palauea Beach, which is also in the Makena State Recreation Area. Before then, Hawaii had seen no fatal shark attacks in its waters since 2004.
By Jennifer Pfalz