A woman was attacked by a shark on Saturday in Maui, Hawaii, resulting in the closure of three beaches until Monday.
A 51-year-old tourist from France was bitten around 4 p.m. off Maui’s Paia Bay, on the north side of the island, according to Hawaii News Now.
The woman was transported in critical condition to Maui Memorial Medical Center, according to a news release from the Maui Police Department.
She was reportedly 100 yards from shore and was thought to be snorkeling at the time of the attack.
“We had all the officers come, lifeguards, police department — asking that everyone stay out of the water,” Cinthia Pacheco, a resident who was at a neighboring beach when the attack occurred, told Hawaii News Now.
Pacheco added, “I think my first reaction was really shocked and I just felt so bad for the person.
“We actually said a little prayer for her at the moment. … It could’ve been one of us.”
The attack, which officials said involved a “serious bite,” led to the closure of Baldwin Beach Park, Lower Paia Beach Park and Kuau Bay Beach Park, according to The Maui News.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday that the woman was recovering at the hospital.
The last time Maui had a reported shark encounter was in May 2021, when a man sustained minor injuries.
There have been at least two additional shark attacks in the state this year, according to Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. Both occurred at Kailua-Kona.
Michelle Benedict, an aquarist supervisor at Oahu’s Sea Life Park who has worked with and cared for captive sharks for over 20 years, explained such incidents in a statement to Hawaii News Now.
“When a predator is pursuing a meal, oftentimes in the wild, they’ll grab at the first thing that they sense or see that could be a potential meal,” Benedict said.
“In cases of accidental shark bites, often it’s just that case of mistaken identity,” she said.
‘Really shocked’: A Maui beachgoer recounts the moments after a shark bit into a visitor from France, leaving her with critical injuries.
— Hawaii News Now (@HawaiiNewsNow) September 5, 2022
Witnesses said it had previously rained and caused the water to appear murky. Benedict said this type of water is the preferred hunting ground for sharks.
It’s important to note that white sharks are still in the area, hunting & feeding on seals in shallow water. AWSC works with local municipalities, @CapeCodNPS, & @MassDMF, to produce shark advisory signs for beaches, flags, & brochures that provide education & tips.
PC: S. Daley pic.twitter.com/VSJlsjqcQX
— Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (@A_WhiteShark) August 30, 2022
The Florida Museum of Natural History provides ways to avoid a potential shark attack.
Swimmers are advised to stay out of the water during low light hours, dusk and dawn, as sharks are most active during this time. In addition, individuals should be aware that sharks frequently feed by sandbars or dropoffs in the water.
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