Shark attacks occur when a shark bites a person, causing injury or death. These attacks can be fatal, although they are relatively rare. The most common type of shark that attacks humans is the great white shark, although there are other species that can pose a threat as well.
How common are shark attacks on Maui?
Shark attacks are more common on Maui than on the other Hawaiian islands, but attacks are still relatively rare.
Maui’s shark attack statistics
Over the past 20 years, Maui has had almost double the number of shark bites of any other island, even though all of the larger islands have thousands of people going into the ocean every day.
Historically, Hawaii averaged between two and three shark attacks a year going back to the 1980s. During the past two decades, the annual average edged up to between three and four shark attacks.
Maui has seen an increase in shark attacks over the years, with 8 attacks in 2019 and 9 in 2020. This is a significant increase from previous years, where there were only 1-2 attacks per year. While the number of attacks is still relatively low, it is cause for concern for both locals and tourists.
Bruce Anderson, administrator of DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, said in 2016 that the reason for more shark attacks off Maui than other islands is “the large and protected shallow ocean shelf that acts as a magnet for tiger sharks near and far.“
The most visited waters by tiger sharks around Maui include some of the most popular beaches and ocean recreation sites, the study said.
Preventive measures, he said, include staying out of the water if it’s murky, swimming with others and staying close to shore.
Anderson said changing ocean behaviors have contributed to the increase in shark bites over the last 20 years. More people are kayaking, blue-water spearfishing, stand-up paddling and swimming offshore, he said.
I heard about a shark attack on Maui and want to know more about it
The Division of Aquatic Resources maintains a list of “incidents” involving sharks. View it here.
Possible reasons for more shark attacks in Maui
There are several possible reasons why Maui has more shark attacks than other beach destinations. These include:
Increased human activity in the water
Maui is a popular destination for tourists, with many people coming to enjoy the beautiful beaches and waters. With more people in the water, there is a higher likelihood of a shark attack occurring.
Large shark population
Maui is home to a large population of sharks, including tiger sharks and great white sharks. These sharks are known to be aggressive and can pose a threat to humans.
Sharks are known to migrate to different areas depending on the season. During the winter months, for example, tiger sharks migrate to Maui to feed on the abundant food sources in the area.
Sharks are attracted to areas where there is an abundance of food. In Maui, there are several factors that contribute to the availability of food, including large numbers of sea turtles, fish, and seals.
How to stay safe from shark attacks in Maui
While shark attacks are relatively rare, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of being attacked while enjoying the beautiful waters of Maui. These include:
Swim in groups
Sharks are more likely to attack a person who is alone than someone who is with a group of people. By swimming in a group, you can reduce your risk of being attacked.
Avoid murky water
Sharks are more likely to mistake a person for prey in murky water. If the water is cloudy or unclear, it’s best to avoid swimming.
Stay away from dead animals in the water
Sharks are attracted to dead animals in the water, so it’s important to stay away from any carcasses you may encounter while swimming.
Don’t wear shiny jewelry
Shiny jewelry can attract sharks, so it’s best to leave it at home when you go swimming.
Don’t swim at dawn or dusk
Sharks are most active at dawn and dusk when the lighting is low. It’s best to avoid swimming during these times to reduce the risk of a shark attack.
Use protective gear
Wearing protective gear such as wetsuits and shark deterrent devices can help reduce your risk of a shark attack. Some devices emit an electric current that sharks find unpleasant and can help keep them away.
Be aware of your surroundings
Always be aware of your surroundings when swimming in the ocean. Look out for any signs of shark activity such as schools of fish jumping out of the water or birds circling above.
Maui’s beautiful waters are a popular destination for beachgoers and tourists, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of shark attacks. While the number of attacks is relatively low, it’s still important to take precautions to reduce your risk. By swimming in groups, avoiding murky water, staying away from dead animals, and being aware of your surroundings, you can swim, surf, snorkel and paddle the beautiful waters of Maui while staying safe.
- Are shark attacks common in Maui?
While shark attacks are relatively rare in Maui, the number of attacks has increased in recent years.
- What is the most dangerous shark in Maui?
Tiger sharks and great white sharks are the most dangerous sharks in Maui.
- Can I swim in Maui’s waters?
Yes, you can swim in Maui’s waters, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of shark attacks and take precautions to reduce your risk.
- How can I reduce my risk of a shark attack in Maui?
You can reduce your risk of a shark attack in Maui by swimming in groups, avoiding murky water, staying away from dead animals, and being aware of your surroundings.
- Are there any shark deterrent devices that can be used in Maui?
Yes, there are several shark deterrent devices that can be used in Maui, such as wetsuits and devices that emit an electric current that sharks find unpleasant.