On Saturday, May, 25 2019 a 65 year old man died from a shark bite while swimming at a distance of 180 ft. from shore at Honokowai Point in Maui.
This incident is terribly sad, and the heart of every employee of The Snorkel Store and our community in Maui and on the mainland goes out to this man’s family and friends.
This tragedy has created an increased interest in sharks and their relationship to people recreating in the ocean in Maui. In this article we will share The Snorkel Store’s perspective on the subject of shark bites and we’ll offer facts and information you can use to ensure your own ocean safety.
The victim was a 65 year old man who was swimming for exercise at a great distance from shore in Honokowai. He was bitten by a shark during his swim and he died from loss of blood before reaching the hospital.
Here is a news video from Hawaii News Now reporting on the event.
Scientists and researchers do not have conclusive answers to common questions such as: Why do sharks bite people? Why did this shark bite occur now? Why did this shark bite occur in this location?
Drawing on years of experience living on the island of Maui, The Snorkel Store would like to share a few of our observations related to this specific incident:
We feel it is worth commenting that this man’s activity in the ocean was very different from the way the vast majority of The Snorkel Store’s customers recreate in the ocean in Maui.
Shark bites are extremely rare. In fact, the chance of being bitten by a shark in Hawaii is less than 1 in 1 million.
If there’s any good news about the understandably scary subject matter of shark bites, it’s this: If you follow simple guidelines, you will eliminate your risk of encountering a shark almost entirely.
Follow these tips to minimize your risk of ever encountering a shark:
Here’s a link to visual representations of each of the different beach safety signs you may come across in Hawaii.
When any person observes a shark in the ocean in Hawaii, officials shut down the beach for a period of 24 hours. If further sightings occur, the beach will remain closed for consecutive 24 hour periods.
Surprisingly, the purpose of a beach closure in Hawaii is both for the safety of humans and for the safety of sharks. Sharks will depart for deeper water naturally, on their own. Shutting down the beach mitigates any confusion the shark may experience close to shore and precipitates its exit.
Sharks tend to spend their time in “blue water” (where the bottom of the ocean isn’t visible) far from shore. Here are 2 circumstances experts commonly theorize a shark might come closer to shore :
It is thought that during mating a shark may sometimes move away from its open water habitat to a more secluded area closer to shore. The idea here is that the shark is avoiding predators and creating a safer environment for “pupping”.
It’s also theorized that sharks can be drawn to shore after a storm because river run-off and turbid water churned up from the bottom of the ocean may contain nutrients that are an easy source of food.
Again, we’d like to emphasize the fact that any time a shark is spotted, authorities will close the beach to recreational use for at least 24 hours.
Maui has experienced more recorded shark bites than the other Hawaiian islands.
In part, this is due to the fact that there are literally thousands of vacationers and locals recreating in the ocean in Maui each day. Millions of people visit Maui yearly.
Maui has more swimmable beaches than any other Hawaiian island. These numbers inflate the statistical representation of incidents between sharks and human beings.
If you follow simple guidelines for ocean safety, snorkeling in Maui is incredibly safe. At The Snorkel Store we feel snorkeling is one of the most life affirming activities a person can experience.
Maui is unique in that it offers dozens of bays, coves and beaches where snorkelers can enjoy an underwater universe of green sea turtles, tropical fish and colorful reef.
It is essential to note that any time a person enters the ocean, anywhere in the world, there is a possibility of danger. While sharks should be included in your calculation of ocean safety, they are no where near the top of the list of potential risks.
Please follow the guidelines laid out in this article with respect to sharks specifically, then focus on general water safety guidelines while recreating in the ocean in Maui.
Below are links to excellent resources on ocean safety in Hawaii.
– The Snorkel Store Customer Care Team
Have a question? Give us a call during work hours, 8-5 Maui time: 808 669 1077