Here a Shark, There a Shark, Everywhere a Shark Shark.
This morning over coffee, my wife mentioned a conversation she had the other day with one of her lady friends. The woman, who is a relative newcomer to these islands, was saying that she loves snorkeling a couple of hundred yards out from the beach off Kihei on Maui’s south shore because that’s where the sea turtles hang out. They’re not particularly afraid of humans and she gets a thrill swimming amongst them.
My wife asked her friend if she knew the other name for those turtles … and got a blank look in response.
“Bait!”, said my wife. “Sharks love to feed on those turtles and you’re swimming right out there with shark bait.”
The woman seemed to shrug it off and it’s quite true that, statistically, your chances of being bitten by a shark in Hawaiian waters are very low. Nevertheless, there were 14 confirmed shark “incidents” in 2013, eight of which occurred in waters off Maui and two of those were fatal. It’s hard to know for sure, but the assumption is that tiger sharks, known to be more aggressive than other sharks, were responsible for most, and maybe even all, of those incidents.
Marine experts at the University of Hawaii have detected “heavy clusters” of sharks in waters off Kihei and Makena here on Maui, especially where the coastal shelf drops off into extremely deep water. So far, there are a couple of dozen tiger sharks swimming in Maui waters that have been tagged with satellite tracking devices. This kind of shark is of great interest to these scientists who are in the middle of an interesting two-year study. Among other things, it involves catching tiger sharks and attaching a small camera – apparently about the size of a hotdog bun — to the dorsal fin. For about 10 hours, the camera will record essentially whatever the shark sees, then it drops off and floats to the surface to be retrieved by the scientists.
Let’s hope, when they’re checking the video from one of those cameras, they don’t find a close-up of my wife’s friend.