A 65-year-old tourist from California died Saturday in an apparent shark attack as he swam off the coast of Maui, authorities said.
The unidentified man was swimming about 60 yards off the beach in the Kaanapali Shores area in western Maui. The County of Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety responded to a witness report in the morning with a helicopter and Jet Ski to locate the man and bring him to shore. Rescuers performed CPR, but he was unresponsive and declared dead at the scene, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
His significant injuries were consistent with a shark attack, KHON2-TV reported.
The weather was clear and seas calm at the time of the apparent attack.
The suspected attack would be the first fatal shark attack in Maui since 2015. There were six shark attacks so far this year in Maui, which is a “hot spot” for shark attacks off Hawaii, shark expert Michael Domeier told KHON2. Despite Saturday’s tragedy, the chances of being attacked — or killed — by a shark are minuscule, he emphasized.
Snorkeler Margaret Cruse was killed by a tiger shark off Maui in 2015 after becoming separated from friends. Hers was the third fatal shark attack in Maui waters since 2013.
Officials have erected shark attack warning signs in Ka’anapali Beach Park and will reassess the danger Sunday.
Sharks only kill about six people per year on average worldwide, according to figures from the International Shark Attack File, which tracks attacks. Four people were killed in unprovoked shark attacks in 2018; only one of those deaths occurred in the U.S. Most U.S. shark attacks occur in Florida.
“The somber truth is that most of the world’s shark populations are in decline, or exist at greatly reduced levels, as a consequence of overfishing and habitat loss,” notes the ISAF. “Fisheries kill about 100 million sharks and rays annually.”