Explanation for Maui shark attack eludes experts

Published: Dec. 1, 2012 at 9:50 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2012 at 10:55 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Tom Kennedy of Oregon was bitten on the leg by a shark off Kihei, he became the fourth person to have such an encounter in recent weeks in Maui waters. And it's still unknown exactly why there have been so many attacks in a short period of time in one area.

"I feel pretty confident that all of these recent attacks are tiger sharks," said retired marine biologist and shark expert John Naughton. "Why all of a sudden we are getting these attacks in the last couple of months just off Maui is very strange."

Diver Marc Riglos was bitten by a tiger shark on the right leg on Nov. 4. Experts believe the shark was 15 feet long. In October, a visitor from California was injured while fighting off a shark. And before that, a tiger shark bit into Dave Peterson's paddleboard.

Is there the possibility that humans are getting in the way of the shark's migration pattern?

"They are here all the time," said Naughton. "Their main migration is during the nighttime hours, when they move in close to shore to feed. Then during the daytime, they'll move offshore into deeper water."

That makes the attacks even more mysterious, since they have happened during daylight hours.

Naughton also said recent studies of tiger shark populations didn't show any unusually high numbers of them around the Valley Isle. "I've never heard or never seen them concentrate in an area," he said.

"We may be dealing with one or two sharks that are doing these attacks, but that would be very unusual as well," said Naughton, who added that more research will have to be done to explain the increase in shark attacks around Maui.

Related story: Maui shark attack victim recounts close call

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.