2006/02/25

Shark Attack on Maui?

This morning, human remains with wounds consistent with shark bites were found on a Maui, Hawaii beach. It is probably those of a tourist who went free diving in the area yesterday afternoon and was reported missing last night.

The beach is near Makena Landing along the south west coast of Maui, which has been my favorite spot for kayaking and snorkelling. The area has a lot of beautiful corals, fish, caves, and green sea turtles. In fact it is often referred to as "turtle town".

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Makena Landing, Maui


That landing also has an interesting history. In the 19th century, before the American transcontinental railroad was built, cattle raised on Maui's slopes were driven down to Makena landing by the "paniolos" (cowboys), herded into the surf, lashed to boats and taken out to ships, which hoisted them aboard and took them to San Fransisco. I once found a horse shoe while snorkeling in that bay.

It is quite possible that the diver's death was not caused by a shark. This person may have been caught in a cave and attacked by a shark later. Purely speculation at this point. I've never seen a shark at that location, but because of the presence of turtles, they are known to come into the area.

If it was a shark that caused the death, it would be only the 15th death from shark attack in Hawaii in the last 100 years, and the 99th attack. Considering the millions of people who enjoy the oceans around Hawaii each year, it's a very rare tragedy. This bay is visited by hundreds of people every day. So don't let stories such as this keep you from enjoying the water.

If you want something to worry about on a tropical vacation, how about this:

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The potentially lethal coconut palm!


Coconuts are 15 times deadlier than sharks. It's true. A coconut can weigh up to four kilograms (8.8 pounds). Falling from a 25 meter tree it would reach a speed of about 80 kilometers per hour, hitting the ground (or perhaps your head) with a force of one metric ton. Around the world, 150 people a year are killed by falling coconuts - 15 times the number of deaths caused by sharks.

Well, now that I've had this gruesome to story remind me of a very beautiful bay which holds many happy memories for me, I'll post some of my pics of kayaking, snorkeling, and turtle watching there. Next post.

13 comments:

Don Snabulus said...

Also, stay away from the cast of the TV show Lost as a few of them have been nabbed for drunk driving.

YD said...

yes! coconut is lethal!

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durian is worse. :-) yet we kids still love to roam around in durian orchard. hehe

Happysurfer said...

I think durians fall only at night that's why we hardly hear of any fatality caused by a durian-fall.

Pandabonium, the Makena Landing looks nice, quiet too. Is it like this all the time?

Pandabonium said...

ds - one more reason to stay in the water.

yd - durians - they may be deadly, but you can smell them coming?

Happysurfer..

Makena is quiet when I would go - early morning. By mid morning, there are tour companies with many kayaks who launch from there and boats carrying dozens of snorkelers that moor in the bay, so it gets a little busy (though not crowded). The beach I preferred launching is long with beautiful powdery sand, and usually not many people at all compared to the beaches closer to the hotels and condos.

Chen said...

mmm... talking about coconut...
We have plenty of coconut trees in Malaysia :)
I never like sitting under the coconut trees cos of the possibility of the coconut(s) falling down from the trees..
Well, better to be cautious ;)

Lrong said...

'This person may have been caught in a cave and attacked by a shark later'... yeap, this is possible... or he/she may have run out of air and drown?

Pandabonium said...

Chen - very wise. hotels, conominiums and public parks in Hawaii all keep the cocopalms trimmed of fruit because of that danger.

Lrong - hi. yes, this guy was a free diver and they often like to explore caves there which can be dangerous. Too early to blame the shark in my opinion, he may have drowned then his body attacked afterward. Sharks do attack healthy people of course.

Anonymous said...

Pandabonium, to keep the record straight, the free diver that died on November 2005 in Makena was a spearfisherman, diving off of a boat, in about 100 feet of water. The tourist that died was also a free diver and it was reported that he had gone out to try a "personal best" in diving deep 100+ feet, ALONE...
Both appear to have had SWB and drowned. Mauidet

Pandabonium said...

Anonymous/Mauidet - thanks for that info. This post was based on one incident which I read about online - either Maui News or a Honolulu paper, I don't remember which. I wasn't aware of the November 2005 accident.

I did a follow-up post on 2/27/2006 titled 'Verdict In - Shark "Not Guilty"' in which I did report that the latter diver went out alone just as you said.

Thanks for the visit and your comment. Be safe out there.

Anonymous said...

Just back from Maui and had a wonderful time even with our shark encounter. Our guess is our Tiger buddy was pushing the 12' plus size and he did charge our kayak about a mile out from the Wailea hotels with pictures to prove it. Leasson learned, enjoy the waters but understand your surroundings, we were playing at the top of the food chain and fortunately mr. sharky didn't like the look of my paddle pointing at him.

Pandabonium said...

Anon. That sounds pretty scary and fascinating at the same time. In 28 years of living (and kayaking and snorkeling) on Maui, I never had such an encounter. Lucky you! Glad it backed off.

Anonymous said...

Well, people aren't afraid of coconuts because coconuts don't sneak up on you while you're swimming, and rip great big chunks of your body off, leaving you to frantically reach the shore before more chunks of your body are ripped off, or you bleed to death. At least I've never seen a coconut do that.

Anonymous said...

I also think it is bad for tourism to publicise shark related deaths, so if human remains are found that have been all chewed up by sharks, the pressure from the local business community would be very strong to say they person drowned. People drowning does not make headlines like, "Shark Attack!"