Woman hospitalized after 'serious' shark bite off Maui

Sep. 4—A woman suffered serious injuries in an apparent shark attack late this afternoon at Lower Paia Beach Park on Maui's north shore, the third such incident in Hawaii waters this year.

A 51-year-old woman from France was critically injured in a shark attack late Saturday afternoon at Lower Paia Beach Park on Maui's north shore, the third such incident in Hawaii waters this year.

The incident prompted the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to post shark warning signs from Baldwin Beach to Tavares Bay urging people to stay out of the water until a safety assessment is made today, while the county announced it was closing the Paia park along with Baldwin and Kuau Bay beach parks through 7 a.m. Monday.

According to Maui police, the woman was swimming or snorkeling in murky water about 100 yards from shore at around 4 :10 p.m. when bystanders noticed she was in distress and needed help. Bystanders brought her to shore and tended to her extensive wounds until ambulance and fire personnel took over.

She was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center in critical condition, police said.

Lower Paia Park, located on the edge of Paia town, is adjacent to the Paia Youth and Cultural Center and features restrooms, a small playing field, basketball court and a relatively short stretch of sandy beach that is popular for sunbathing, swimming, bodysurfing and surfing.

The beach is not staffed by county lifeguards.

Officers from DLNR's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement responded to the shark incident, and personnel from the Division of Aquatic Resources and Maui ocean safety officers put up signs warning people to stay out of the water 1 mile on either side of Paia Bay.

DLNR recorded two previous shark incidents this year. On March 21, a scuba diver was nipped on the right big toe by a 6-foot Galapagos shark about a mile off Kea ­hole Point on Hawaii island, and on Feb. 9, a person who was floating about 1.5 miles off Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona was bitten on the right foot and calf by a cookiecutter shark.

The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii occurred Dec. 8, 2020, when a surfer was mauled by a 14-foot tiger shark at Honolua Bay on Maui. In 2021, DLNR recorded eight shark incidents, three each off Maui and Hawaii island and one each off Oahu and Kauai.

Shark bite numbers vary from year to year for no apparent reason, but from 2012 to 2021, there was an average of almost nine incidents annually statewide, according to DLNR reports. Of the 87 total incidents during that 10-year period, 43 % occurred in Maui waters, as did all five fatalities.