The Maui News, Honolulu Star-Advertiser - Maui County Ocean Safety officials reopened the beaches surrounding Palauea Beach in Wailea at noon on Thursday, Aug. 15, after a visitor from Germany lost her right arm in an apparent shark attack the day before. The woman, about 20, was snorkeling at the beach, also known as White Rock, when beachgoers heard her cries for help Wednesday.
"She screamed and called for help," said Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.
Beachgoers went to the woman's aid and brought her to shore in a kayak.
The woman had been snorkeling roughly 50 yards offshore when the apparent attack occurred. The water was choppy with limited visibility, the county said.
The Maui Fire Department got the call at 4:41 p.m. Wednesday.
Responding firefighters administered first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the unconscious woman.
"Her right arm was severed right below the shoulder," Mainaga said. The arm was not found, he said.
She was taken by ambulance in critical condition to Maui Memorial Medical Center, Mainaga said.
The woman was with a couple of friends, who did not see the attack or a shark, he said.
Dr. Andrew Rossiter, a shark expert with the Waikiki Aquarium, believes this case is a common one of mistaken identity.
"If the water is cloudy, the shark can't see very well and they mistake you as food," Dr. Rossiter said.
This was the fifth shark attack so far this year in Maui waters, where a jump in attacks was seen last year, and the eighth attack this year statewide, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
"This puts the state on pace to top 2012's record of 11, the most attacks in the past 12 years and more than twice the yearly average of 4.75 attacks," DLNR Aquatic Biologist Russell Sparks said. "The majority, 43 percent, have happened on Maui, followed by O'ahu, then Kauai, and further down the list the Big Island."
"Maui has more people in the water than any other given time," Dr. Rossiter said. "We have a lot of resorts along entire leeward coast and thousands of people in the water every day."
Since 2001, there have been 65 shark incidents statewide, including Wednesday's attack.