Hawaii’s shark worries worsen after kayaker dies in Maui attack

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Hawaii officials have shut down an area of water just off the southern coast of Maui after a kayaker was killed in an apparent shark attack there Monday.

It was the second such death in Maui this year, continuing a worrisome trend for Hawaii after a decade of relative quiet that has been disturbed by an increase in shark attacks over the last two years.

On Monday, Patrick A. Briney, 57, of Stevenson, Wash., was fishing and kayaking with a friend somewhere between Maui and the tiny island of Molokini -- which is about 2 1/2 miles off Maui’s south shore -- when his friend heard him cry out, according to the Maui County Police Department.


The friend paddled to Briney and found him bleeding profusely from an apparent shark bite on his right leg, police said.

Unable to stop the bleeding, the pair sought help from a chartered snorkeling boat, which took Briney to a boat ramp ashore, police said. But Briney died before he could be taken to a hospital.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources closed beaches in the surrounding area until further notice, officials said Tuesday.

The attack came three days after an unidentified woman was attacked (but survived) at Keawakapu Beach about five miles to the north, and four months after a German tourist died after her arm was bitten off while she was snorkeling.

The attacks represent the continuing escalation of a worrisome trend: There have been at least eight shark attacks around Maui in 2013, with 13 shark attacks overall reported around the state, according to state data and recent reports.

Attacks in Hawaii have risen sharply over the last two years compared with the last decade, when Hawaii saw only one fatality, in 2004.


2013’s tally of 13 exceeds the number of attacks reported in 2012 -- 10 -- which already represented a dramatic increase from the three or four attacks a year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, according to statistics maintained by the state of Hawaii and the Florida-based International Shark Attack File.

In 2013, Maui victims have been attacked while swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and now kayaking.

“We are not sure why these bites are occurring more frequently than normal, especially around Maui,” Hawaii Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila Jr. told the Associated Press. “That’s why we are conducting a two-year study of shark behavior around Maui that may give us better insights.”

Between 2001 and 2012, 477 shark attacks were reported in the U.S., with a majority (271) happening in Florida waters. Hawaii ranks second, with 52 attacks over the same period.


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