Beaches reopened in wake of shark attack

Beaches around Kaa Point and Kanaha Beach Park were reopened at noon Friday following a shark attack Thursday afternoon, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

An unidentified foreign national in his 40s was bitten in an area from his calf to his ankle while kitesurfing about 300 yards off Kaa Point around 3:19 p.m. Thursday. He was conscious and coherent when taken by paramedics to the Maui Memorial Medical Center, officials said.

On Friday, a large shark was seen in offshore waters around 7:50 a.m., but subsequently left the area. On Thursday, lifeguards had seen a 12- to 15-foot tiger shark in the area and told people to get out of the water.

Maui County ocean safety officers and the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement personnel used personal watercrafts to watch nearshore waters.

The Maui Fire Department’s Air One helicopter and DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources staff also monitored the area.

In an unrelated shark incident, Kihei resident Drew Young said he was spearfishing with some friends about 75 yards offshore at Maluaka Beach in Makena on Sunday afternoon when he encountered a tiger shark about 10 to 11 feet long.

“I felt a jerk on my spear gun and tag line, but I couldn’t really see underwater; the visibility was only about 20 feet,” said the seasoned diver, an administrator for Hawaii Skin Diver. “I saw a big splash (in the distance) and reeled my tag line in. I had seven fish, half of them were missing, and only the head of one remained. He ate my fish.”

Young swam toward a nearby coral formation, keeping an eye out for the shark, he said. Before long, it approached him as he was pushed up against a coral formation, but turned away after coming within 12 feet of the fisherman. Young said he noticed the distinctive back end of the shark’s tail and identified it as a tiger shark.

The incident took place around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, and the waters were murky, Young said. Several people were snorkeling in the area. Immediately after the incident, Young said he called the U.S. Coast Guard to notify them of the close encounter.

The website Hawaii Sharks, sponsored by the DLNR, has logged five previous Maui shark attacks this year, including one last week in Ka’ehu Bay, Waiehu, where a man was injured but survived the attack. The attacks include confirmed bites of people or boards.