Scientists Explain Why There Are More Shark Attacks In Maui

Posted: May 21 2016, 5:12am CDT | by , Updated: May 22 2016, 12:54pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Explain Why There are More Shark Attacks in Maui
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sharks bite more people in Maui than any other Hawaiian island. The reason is more people are now in the ocean.

Maui Island is known for its beautiful beach resorts, diverse geography, water based activities as well as shark bites. According to reports, the island experiences more shark attack cases than any other Hawaiian island. 

Now, scientists have attempted to explain the reason behind it. They have found that sharks especially tiger sharks naturally favor the water around Maui. The reason why shark attack cases have increased over the years is because the ocean is crowded with more and more people. Maui is close to some of the popular Hawaii beaches for visitors.

“Over the past 20 years, Maui has had almost double the number of shark bites of any other island, even though all of the larger islands have thousands of people going into the ocean every day.” Principal investigator Carl Meyer said from University of Hawaii said in a statement.

The study was funded by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources in the wake of rising shark attacks in 2012 and 2013. Researchers tracked 41 tiger sharks around Maui and Oahu for two years and the data indicated that sharks visit Maui more often than other island - about 2.5 times per month compared with 1.5 times for Oahu and about once every two months for Kauai.

“Overall, our results suggest the insular shelf surrounding Maui Nui is an important natural habitat for Hawaii tiger sharks, and consequently large tiger sharks are routinely and frequently present in waters off the ocean recreation sites around Maui. This may explain why Maui has had more shark bites than other Main Hawaiian Island, although we cannot exclude differences in the numbers of ocean recreation activities between Maui and other islands as the primary cause of inter-island differences in shark bite rates.” Meyer explained.

Despite the fact thousands of beachgoers are there and presence of sharks is fairly frequent, the interaction between human and shark is still relatively low. There were 5 to 8 bites in 2013 and 2015. The ratio could have much higher but these numbers suggests that tiger sharks normally tend to avoid humans. However, people need to be cautious every time they enter the ocean.

“Swimming in the ocean is what amounts to swimming in a wilderness-type environment,” said Bruce Anderson, administrator of the state Division of Aquatic Resources. “Sharks are part of this environment. We have to accept that they are there and take precautions to avoid encounters that are going to occur from time to time.”

Researchers believe that shark’s behavior remained the same as it was for hundreds of years but it’s the people who have changed their attitude. There are more number of people involve in water activities such as kayaking, surfacing and swimming than ever before. Therefore, we are observing a spike in human/shark encounters. 

To avoid shark attacks, researchers suggest that people should stay out of those parts of ocean where water is murky. They should not get close to those streams where dead animals wash ashore and attract sharks. It is preferable to swim in groups. So, people can help out each other if shark bites someone.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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