Encounter with aggressive shark closes Maui beach

Encounter with aggressive shark closes Maui beach
Shark Warning signs are posted at Makena Beach, Maui
Shark Warning signs are posted at Makena Beach, Maui

MAKENA, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two divers spearfishing off Maui had a close call with an aggressive Galapagos shark off Makena's Black Sand Beach.

The incident happened at about noon Wednesday. State officials closed an area from Ahihi Bay to Makena Landing, a mile in either direction from the location of the report.

The initial report made by the divers to lifeguards at the beach park was that an 8 to 10-foot Galapagos shark made several passes at them while they were spearfishing close to shore off Black Sand beach at Makena.

"Any spear fisherman knows that when you have a bunch of bleeding fish or shaking fish on your stringer, that's a dinner call to sharks," said DLNR chair William Aila.

They tried to fend it off with their spears but the shark kept coming. "The fishermen eventually surrendered their catch to the shark, and the shark turned its attention to the catch and the fishermen were able to get back on shore, minus their catch," said Aila.

"We are closing the beach because of the reported aggressive behavior of the shark that was made to lifeguards," said Randy Awo, DOCARE Chief.  "This is occurring in the same vicinity of Monday's fatal shark bite incident."

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

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers are responding to investigate, and will work with Maui County Ocean Safety lifeguards to post shark sighted warning signs and notify the public to keep out of the water.

"I think those guys did the right thing, they poked the shark off, they started heading toward shore," said expert skin diver Wendell Ko on Oahu. He said he takes an aggressive stance, facing the shark, and poking at them if he has to. And it's not always possible, but he tries not to give up his catch.

"I try not to feed the sharks, because once you feed the shark, then they become conditioned to come back," said Ko. "They see an orange floater, they know it's food. It's a dinner bell. It's feeding time.

On Monday, the same beach was closed after a fatal shark attack.

Fifty-seven year-old Patrick Briney of Washington was killed while he was fishing from a kayak in waters between Makena and Molokini.

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