HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A spike in shark attacks off Maui in 2012 and 2013 prompted a two-year study of shark behavior. The research was conducted by a team from the University of Hawaii's Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Dr. Carl Meyer, principle investigator for the study, explained that the Maui Nui complex, consisting of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe, has more preferred tiger shark habitat than all other main Hawaiian Islands combined.
According to Dr. Meyer, "Tiger sharks captured around Maui spend most of their time on the extensive Maui Nui insular shelf, which is also an attractive habitat for tiger sharks arriving from elsewhere in Hawaii. The insular shelf extends offshore from the shoreline to depths of 200 meters (600 feet), and is home to a wide variety of tiger shark prey."
Although tiger shark movement patterns revealed by the latest study are generally similar to those seen in previous studies, the larger area of shelf habitat around Maui may be able to support more tiger sharks than other main Hawaiian Islands. In addition, the most frequently-visited areas by tiger sharks around Maui include waters adjacent to popular ocean recreation sites.
He noted, "2015 saw only one unprovoked shark bite off Maui. Shark behavior didn't change year to year, and there was no shift in human behavior. These spikes occur all over the world, and are most likely due to chance."
Citing previous studies, the HIMB team also noted that historical shark culling in Hawaii neither eliminated nor demonstrably reduced shark bite incidents.