Woman attacked by shark in waters off South Maui

UPDATE: Calif. woman recovers after shark attack on Maui

A woman is in the hospital after getting bitten by a shark on Maui. It’s the state’s second attack in three days and scientists say tropical storm Flossie has something to do with it.

Warning signs have been posted on the south beaches of Maui. Ocean Safety officials say the shark attack happened around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in waters off Ulua Beach Park.

The female victim was bitten in her mid-section while swimming in about 10 feet of water.

Scientists say it’s not surprising to find sharks close to the shoreline after a storm, which brought rain and sediment washing into the ocean.

“Because there’s lots of food being carried in there, so they’re coming closer the shore. The water’s murky, they’re basically biting into anything that they sense it’s not a good time to be in the water,” Waikiki Aquarium Director Dr. Andrew Rossiter said.

Murky waters were also reported during Monday’s shark attack off White Plains Beach in Ewa Beach. In that case 19-year-old Kiowa Gatewood was bitten on the leg while surfing about 100 feet from the shoreline. Tropical storm Flossie was just hours away from arriving and it had been raining most of the day.

“It’s carrying concentrations of fresh water in there and the sharks can sense what’s in the water, so they’ll be curious. The water visibility will be bad and they’ll be basically testing out whatever’s there and if you’re in there, they’ll test you out,” Dr. Rossiter said.

Dr. Rossiter says it’s never a good idea to be in the ocean when the water’s murky and it’s always a good idea to wait at least a few days after a storm.

The woman attacked Wednesday morning was sent to Maui Memorial Medical Center. Her condition has not been released.

The state closed the beaches from Polo Beach Park to the Mana Kai Maui Resort shortly after the attack.

Lifeguards will inspect the beaches on Thursday to determine whether to reopen them.

Related story: Surfer attacked by shark credits board for saving life

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