Shark bite halts use of beaches

A two-mile stretch of ocean off South Maui is expected to remain off limits to swimmers, snorkelers and others until at least noon today after a shark attacked a woman Wednesday morning in 10-foot-deep water about 125 yards off of Ulua Beach.

The woman was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center for treatment of an injury to her upper torso, officials said. She was expected to be able to speak to reporters this morning.

The beach closure affects offshore waters from Polo Beach to the Mana Kai Maui Resort.

The attack happened between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. at Ulua Beach, according to Clarence Yamamoto, Maui chief for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement.

Officials believe it was a shark attack incident, he said. He declined to go into detail about the woman’s injuries, although there was at least one bite.

That injury was to the woman’s upper torso, said Maui County spokesman Rod Antone.

There was “limited visibility” in the water, Yamamoto said.

The woman did not report the species of shark that attacked her, he said. She was able to swim to shore on her own.

State Conservation and Resource Enforcement officers and officials with the state Division of Aquatic Resources posted warning signs and were assigned to remain at the scene of the attack, patrolling waters with personal watercraft at least until sunset, Yamamoto said. County ocean safety officers were assisting on personal watercraft and on all-terrain vehicles.

Aquatics Resources personnel were on hand to provide information about sharks, he said.

The closure affected the shoreline a mile north and south of the attack’s location.

Officials planned to continue patrolling the area after first light today and to keep the area off limits to swimmers and others until at least noon. Then, an assessment would be made to determine whether to reopen the beaches, Yamamoto said.

There were no other reports of shark sightings, he said.

San Francisco area resident Dave Thomas said he went to Ulua Beach on Wednesday morning to do some paddle boarding when he noticed a group of people surrounding a woman at the shore break.

The woman had numerous cuts on her back and was bleeding from her face and forehead, he said.

“At first I thought she ran into coral,” he said. “She wasn’t yelling or screaming. She was slumped over.”

Then, someone told him the woman had been bitten by a shark.

The water at the time of the attack was somewhat murky, although it was relatively calm, with some white caps, he said. The woman had no snorkel equipment and appeared to have been swimming in shallow water among other people a short distance from shore when the incident occurred, he said.

Thomas said he’s been visiting Maui for 40 years, and “this is the first time we’ve had a shark incident; first time we’ve had a tropical depression,” referring to Tropical Depression Flossie that rolled through Maui on Monday afternoon and evening.

He hasn’t been able to do much paddle boarding since coming to Maui. He rented a paddle board the day before the storm and got three paddles in before officials called him in.

“It’s a bummer,” he said.

* Managing Editor Lee Imada contributed to this report. Brian Perry can be reached at

* This article contains a correction from the original published on Thursday, Aug. 1. Shark attack. California resident Evonne Cashman was snorkeling approximately 125 yards off of Ulua Beach on July 31, when she was attacked by a shark and suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.

The Maui News apologizes for the error.