Woman reportedly bitten by shark while snorkeling off Maui

A woman was reportedly bitten by a shark on Maui.

According to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, it happened at around 11 a.m.

Officials say the 46-year-old was snorkeling with a tour group about a half-mile off Olowalu when she felt a tug on her fin.

She looked back to see a gray-colored shark swimming away. An employee on board the tour boat described it as an 8-foot tiger shark.

The woman was in 18 feet of murky water at the time.

An alert from Maui police says the woman was bitten on her big toe. DLNR said she was treated on the boat.

This would be the second shark attack on Maui this year.

Following the state’s shark warning protocols, officials posted shark warning signs along the west Maui coastline, from Lone Pine (mile post 13 on Honoapiilani Highway) to the Olowalu Recycling Center.

They will reevaluate the scene by noon Friday to determine if the water is safe for swimmers.

So far this year the state has seen three incidents involving sharks. This particular one at the same beach at Olowalu where 41year-old Martha Morrell was killed by a shark in 1991. She had been swimming about a hundred yards offshore when she was attacked by a 15-foot tiger shark.

Waterman Brian Keaulana says this part of Maui is known for shark activity. “This beach is a birthing ground like certain places around the island is where predators go to bear their pups and where they hang out.”

In the last four years there have been a total 27 shark incidents resulting in just two fatalities. Olowalu is known for having signs up to warn people of sharks every day of the year. Keaulana says people should always take precautions no matter the beach. “There’s places all over the state on the island that sharks frequent and it’s those areas you just have to be really vigilant and aware of.”

Keaulana also says it’s all about watching the water and knowing what you’re getting into. “What are you saying?  It’s at a specific beach? I look at the ocean as the ocean. It doesn’t really matter sometimes of where are. You just have to be again vigilant no matter where it is. It’s not a swimming pool. It’s the ocean, and there are dangers lurking.”

As for Olowalu, officials will re-evaluate the area tomorrow.

Click here for important safety tips and other shark information.

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