Waters closed after shark incident

The nearshore waters off Makena State Park were closed as of noon Wednesday after an aggressive shark chased two spearfishermen from the water, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said.

The waters from Ahihi Bay to Makena Landing, a mile in both directions from the sighting, were closed.

Divers told lifeguards at the beach park that an 8- to 10-foot Galapagos shark made several passes at them while spearfishing close to shore off Black Sand Beach in Makena, DLNR said.

“They tried to fend it off with their spears but the shark kept coming, so they let it take their catch of speared fish and headed back to shore at Little Beach,” DLNR said.

Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement Chief Randy Awo said that the sighting was “in the same vicinity of Monday’s fatal shark bite incident.”

Patrick A. Briney, 57, of Stevenson, Wash., was kayak fishing about a half-mile off Little Beach on Monday when part of his right leg was bitten off by a shark. He died before reaching shore.

“Beachgoers, swimmers, fishers/divers are advised to comply with this closure in the interest of public safety,” said Awo. “The state recommends that spearfishermen with speared fish on a line should be extra cautious.”

The Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers were responding to investigate and were working with Maui County Ocean Safety lifeguards to post warning signs and to notify the public to keep out of the water.

The waters were closed Wednesday until sunset. At the end of day, DLNR officials were to make an assessment and determine whether to maintain the closure from sunrise today until noon, per the state shark response protocol.

There have been eight shark incidents, and two deaths, off Maui this year, according to the DLNR.