A fisherman in a kayak off the island of Maui in Hawaii has died after he was attacked and bitten by a shark. According to authorities, the incident is just the latest in an alarming number of shark attacks in Hawaii State during 2013.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said that the attack on the fisherman happened on Monday morning, between Maui and the tiny island of Molokini, in the Makena State Recreation Area on Maui.
The man’s friend, who was in a separate kayak, told DLNR that his friend, Patrick A. Briney, 57, of Stevenson, Wash., was sitting with his legs hanging over the edge of the boat, fishing for baitfish. A shark then bit one of the Briney’s feet.
The companion, who was a short distance away when the attack happened, said he then paddled over to the injured man and attached a tourniquet to his leg in an attempt to stem the severe bleeding. He then called on a boat touring in the area for help.
Rod Antone of the Mayor’s Office in Maui County said that the tour boat assisted and took Briney ashore, where he was then transferred to the hospital. However, according to authorities, Briney had already died of his injuries while on the boat.
Reportedly, following the attack, the waters off the Makena State Recreation Area were closed by authorities. However, beaches in the area are still open, with the DLNR advising people visiting the beach to stay out of the water.
Should no more sharks be seen in the vicinity in a couple of days, the area will reopen.
What is worrying is that this attack came just three days after an unidentified woman was also attacked by a shark, at Keawakapu Beach around five miles to the north. The lady survived the experience, but four months before, a German tourist died when her arm was taken off by a shark while snorkeling and now a similar attack kills a fisherman in a kayak.
Maui authorities are saying that so far in 2013, there have been 13 shark incidents, which is well above the state’s average. The norm is an average of four unprovoked attacks by sharks each year, over the last 20 years. Those attacked were either swimming, surfing, snorkeling or, as in the latest case, kayaking.
In 2012, 10 incidents were reported, which was already an unprecedented figure.
According to the DLNR chairman, William J. Aila, Jr., experts are unsure why these attacks are occurring more often and especially around Maui.
Aila said that they are currently conducting a study of shark behavior around Maui over a period of two years, in the hopes that this will give them better insight into what is happening.
He added that authorities are hoping, and indeed, expecting that number of incidents will return to the norm in the near future.
In the US in general, between 2001 and 2012, a total of 477 shark attacks were reported. The majority (271) occurred in the waters off Florida with Hawaii ranking second, with a total of 52 attacks over the same period.
When taking 13 attacks into consideration so far this year alone, including the latest shark attack on the fisherman in a kayak near Maui, a worrying figure indeed.
By Anne Sewell