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Update on the Big Island Shark Attack

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers and DLNR Aquatic Resources staff are responding to a report of a shark incident that took place today between 8 to 8:30 a.m. in ocean waters between the County’s Punaluu Beach Park and Ninole, in Ka’u District of the island of Hawaii.

It was reported by Hawaii County Police that a male, 29 years old and two friends were in the water body boarding about 7 a.m. About an hour later, while the male was paddling back out, he was about 20 yards from shore when he was hit and knocked of his board by a shark. Type of shark is thought to have been a 10 to 12 foot tiger shark according to the victim’s friends.

According to DOCARE, water depth was about 8-12 feet , conditions windy with surf. The male was transported by friends via private vehicle to a hospital in Pahala with non life-threatening injuries.

Shark Sighted

Hawaii County Police have confirmed to DOCARE that Punaluu Beach Park has been closed by Hawaii County Lifeguards. Lifeguards have posted shark warning signs at Punaluu beach park, which will remain closed the rest of today. The fire department helicopter flew over the area at 10 a.m. today and will do so again tomorrow morning, If there is no further sighting of sharks the park will reopen at noon tomorrow.

Ka’u Kako’o, a local community outreach group at Punaluu will help to inform beachgoers that the beach is closed.

 

Tiger Shark Bites Body Boarder Off the Big Island

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a shark bite that occurred Wednesday (December 11) at Punaluʻu in the area of Punaluʻu Beach and Nīnole Bay.

Shark Sighted
At approximately 8 a.m., a 29-year-old Captain Cook man reported being bitten by a shark while body boarding in the area of Nīnole Bay, which is just south of Punaluʻu Beach Park.

Officers contacted the victim at Kaʻū Hospital, where he was being treated for his non-life-threatening injuries. The victim reported being approximately 20 yards off shore in 8 feet of water when the shark attack occurred. He was body boarding with two friends, who identified the shark as being a Tiger shark 10 -12 feet long.

The victim is expected to be released from the hospital after treatment.

The beach was closed and is expected to remain closed until noon Friday (December 13).

Commentary – Video of Shark Being Caught “Has Brought Shame To Our Island”

Recently, a video filmed at Honokohau Harbor has brought shame to our island. The video depicts some young people landing a large Tiger shark on the rocks at the harbor entrance. The tackle used is ropes tied to the land. This was neither fishing for food or sport-fishing where the animal is fought with a rod. It was simply disrespect.

Still shot from the video

Still shot from the video

The shark is an important part of the Hawaiian culture. For some, the shark is ‘aumakua. But for all, the shark was respected, not a plaything: “(In old Hawai’i, catching the niuhi was the game of the chiefs, a dangerous sport for which special techniques were developed, according to historian Mary Kawena Pukui. Eating niuhi flesh was also taboo to women.) [http://www.moolelo.com/shark-respected.html]”

Today, sharks are globally threatened by the finning industry, which wastes the life of the shark for a few pounds of fin. Meanwhile, live sharks are an economic benefit to the dive industry. Shark dives bring in at least $125,000,000 per year globally and any Big Island dive operator can attest to the enthusiasm that’s generated even by a small reef shark.

Further, the sharks at Honokohau are well known to the community. Everyone knows Laverne, the largest resident female, but the shark in the video is Tony. (Tony survived: He was filmed by some divers two weeks after the video was shot.) You can see photos of Tony and the other tiger sharks of Honokohau at (http://milisenphotography.yolasite.com/tiger-shark-id.php)[http://milisenphotography.yolasite.com/tiger-shark-id.php].

When the young men in the video returned the shark to the water, they were putting a large injured predator back into an area where dozens of people swim every day. Alua Beach, a popular place for families to bring keiki, is only a few hundred yards from where the shark was landed. There are multiple dive sites within a quarter mile to either side of the boat channel.

As with most regular divers at Honokohau, I’ve watched the sharks and the sharks have watched me. I’ve never forgotten that these are apex predators and need to be treated with respect (and watched from a distance). The sharks are there because it’s their natural territory and, probably, because of scraps from fisherman. There’s never been a shark attack reported at Honokohau.

Since:

Sharks are important and culturally respected by native Hawaiians; and – Sharks are not targeted by shore-fisherman for either sport or food; and – The area is frequented by swimmers, SCUBA divers, and free divers:

I would ask that the County of Hawai’i and/or DNLR to declare the area near the entrance of Honokohau Harbor as a “niuhi conservation zone” and forbid the intentional targeting by fisherman of large sharks within that area. The ban should forbid the use of hooks larger than those used for commonly-targeted sports and food fish and the use of anchored ropes or chains for fishing.

Larry O’Brien, Kailua-Kona

Video: Fishermen Catches Shark by Hand on Big Island – Almost Gets Eaten in Process

Two fishermen on the Big Island recently had the catch of a lifetime when they brought in a tiger shark estimated to be about 12-14 feet the other day.

Captured Tiger

Published yesterday on YouTube, Mike McCrum says:  “Big Rope + Big Cable + Big Hook + Big Bait = LIVE ACTION With A Big SHARK!!!!! yeeeeeeeeee What U Kno About Dat!?. “Catch And Release”.

If the shark was released… I have to wonder what type of shape it was in after this battle:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/fhAWTzjG5RU]

 

DLNR Closes Kekaha Kai State Park Today after Shark Incident

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) this afternoon closed Mahaiula and Kua Bay sections of Kekaha Kai State Park due to a shark incident earlier today. The park is located 2.6 miles north of Keahole airport in Kailua-Kona.

Shark Sighted

Shark warning sign posted at Kua Bay, Kekaha Kai State Park. Photo by DOCARE.

At about 12:55 p.m., the victim, a 28-year-old male from Kailua-Kona, was swimming in waters off of Mahaiula Beach when he was bit by a shark.

The Hawaii County Fire Department responded and transported him via medevac helicopter to North Kona Community Hospital for treatment.

The helicopter overflight also revealed what appeared to be a large tiger shark in the vicinity of the location where the victim was attacked.

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers and State Parks staff evacuated Mahaiula Bay, closed access to the bay and posted shark warning signs. Kua Bay is being evacuated as well and access closed.

Closure of these two bays will continue until at least noon Wednesday, following a flyover by Hawaii County Fire Department helicopter to assess offshore waters for any presence of sharks.

Shark Attack Off The Big Island – Warning Signs Posted at Kiholo Bay State Park

About 5 p.m. this evening, a 43-year old local male was surfing about 200 yards offshore at the north side of Kiholo Bay when he was bit on the right forearm by a 15 foot tiger shark. He also suffered injuries to his knee. A worker at a private home on the north side of bay called in to 911.

Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay

Hawaii County Fire Department responded and a helicopter was sent up to scan the waters, but nothing was seen. DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement contacted the Kiholo Community Association which posted shark warning signs at the entrance gate to Kiholo Bay State Park. The park will remain closed until noon tomorrow. In the morning, HFD and DLNR will assess the area for any sharks sightings. If nothing is seen, the park and beach will reopen.