Man killed in shark attack while fishing in Hawaii

Posted at 7:58 AM, Dec 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-03 08:49:38-05

(CNN) – A man fishing from a kayak off a Hawaiian island has died after being bitten by a shark, authorities said Monday. The incident was the latest in an alarming spate of shark attacks in the state this year.

The attack took place Monday morning half a mile off a point near Little Beach in Makena State Recreation Area on the island of Maui, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said.

The victim’s companion, who was also on a kayak, told the department that his friend was fishing for baitfish with artificial lures when a shark bit one of his feet, which was dangling over the edge of the boat.

The man’s companion, who was about 500 yards away when the attack took place, paddled over to him, tied a tourniquet and called on a tour boat in the vicinity for help, authorities said.

The tour boat brought the man to shore, and he was then taken to the hospital. But authorities believe he died during the boat journey, said Rod Antone of the Mayor’s Office of the County of Maui.

The man was in his 40s, but authorities are unsure if he was a local resident or a tourist, Antone said. The identities of the man and his companion have not been disclosed.

High number of shark incidents

“We offer our condolences to the family of the victim. Our thoughts and prayers are with them,” said William J. Aila, Jr., the DLNR chairman.

Authorities say they have closed the waters off Makena State Recreation Area following the attack. Beaches in the area remain open, but the DLNR said people are advised to stay out of the water.

The area will reopen at noon Tuesday if no more sharks are seen in the vicinity, the department said.

The attack is the 13th shark incident reported in Hawaii so far this year, and the eighth on Maui, authorities said.

That’s well above the state’s average of four unprovoked shark attacks per year over the past 20 years. The 10 incidents reported in 2012 were unprecedented at the time, the DLNR said.

“We are not sure why these bites are occurring more frequently than normal, especially around Maui,” Aila said. “That’s why we are conducting a two-year study of shark behavior around Maui that may give us better insights.”

Aila said that authorities hope and expect “that numbers of incidents will return to a more normal range in the near future.”

In August, a German tourist died after being bitten by a shark while she was vacationing in Hawaii.