A shark attack on a kayak fisherman was reported off of the coast of Hawaii Monday, the second in a four-day span. But this attack off the island of Maui turned deadly as the kayaker suffered a bite to his foot that caused extensive bleeding and, eventually, death, despite the help of a fellow kayaker, the transport of a nearby tour boat, and the best efforts of a hospital to keep him alive.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) Dec. 2 that Maui County Ocean Safety officials received a call Monday that a man fishing between the islands of Maui and Molokini, a popular snorkeling destination, had been attacked by a shark while fishing. Police identified the man as 57-year-old Patrick Briney of Stevenson, Wash.
According to a news release from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Briney was dangling his foot over the side of his kayak when he was bitten by a shark. He and a friend were fishing with artificial lures in an effort to attract baitfish.
Briney's partner quickly tied off the wounded leg with a tourniquet to help staunch the bleeding and hailed a nearby tour charter boat. The state report noted that the tour boat took the the kayakers to shore and the wounded man was immediately taken to a hospital.
What type of shark attacked the kayaker is still unknown, but the incident is Hawaii's thirteenth this year. It is also the state's second fatal shark attack, both of which occurred off the Maui coast.
Back in August a 20-year-old German woman died after being attacked by a shark. Jana Lutteropp was snorkeling when a shark suddenly bit off her right arm. Although she was rushed to hospital, her injuries proved too much and she died a week later.
Of the thirteen shark attacks that have occurred around Hawaii this year, eight have been near Maui shores. Besides Patrick Briney's attack on Monday, a woman was attacked Friday.
Maui News reported that Marsha Lowery, a 58-year-old resident of Haiku (located on the northern shore of Maui), was bitten while snorkeling off a South Maui beach in Kihei. The victim said she was following a turtle when the shark struck. A naturopath was on hand and quickly applied a compress to the wound to the woman's calf, which was described as small on one side of the leg but 6-to-8 inches on the other side and "pretty deep." The shark bite proved to be non-fatal.
The large number of shark attacks around Hawaii is abnormal -- the state has averaged only four each year for the past 20 years -- and authorities are at a loss to explain what might have precipitated the uptick in incidents. A two-year study has been commissioned to attempt to ascertain causative factors, prompted by the ten unprovoked shark attacks (a record) that occurred around the state in 2012.
More worrisome, officials say, is that the last months of the year see a peak in shark attacks due to annual rainfall increase at that time. The rainfall leads to increased stream run-off, which sends more fish into the ocean, providing a bounty of food off Hawaii's shores and a concomitant increase in the number of sharks.