The fear of sharks is real, and it has only been made worse in recent years by movies like Jaws. Sharks are actually beautiful creatures, and are extremely important to the ecosystem. They are also excellent predators and have enough power in a bite to kill someone easily (depending on their size and species).
However, the fear that many people have towards sharks is actually unfounded. Yes, these creatures are powerful and can be very intimidating, but they are by no means the animal responsible for the most deaths across the world.
If you want to learn more about sharks, and learn if there are sharks in Maui, keep reading! Here, you will learn a lot about our fishy friends, and hopefully you will be put at ease. Maybe next time you visit the beach, you will do more than tip your toes in the water — ready?
Do You Get Sharks in Maui?
The short answer — yes! Maui is a location well loved by sharks, especially tiger sharks. The waters make the perfect habitat for these creatures, but don’t worry. Shark attacks are so rare, and despite the pretty long list below, you will probably never even see or hear about most of these sharks. Even the most common sharks in the waters of Maui rarely attack people.
If you want statistics, here you go. On average, there are only .14 shark related deaths in Maui per year. There are 3.4 shark-related incidents per year in Hawaii as a whole. Over a period of 34 years (1980-2014), there were only 116 shark encounters that were confirmed, and only 5 of these were fatal.
The main group of people to be attacked by sharks are fishermen and surfers, as swimmers hardly even come into contact with them. However, it is surprising that these numbers are not higher than they are considering how popular Hawaii is, and especially the island of Maui.
Shark species that occur in and around Maui:
- Scalloped hammerhead sharks – typically live off shore and pup in various bays including Waimea, Kaneohe, and Hilo Bays
- Smooth hammerhead sharks – found in inshore waters that are relatively shallow (maximum 65 feet)
- Black reef tip sharks – found close to the coastline and the edges of coral reefs
- White reef tip sharks – typically found in reefs, like to rest in caves
- Sandbar sharks – found at depths of 30-900 feet
- Tiger sharks – found all around the island of Maui and live on the surface as well as depths of 2,500 feet
- Galápagos sharks – usually found on the Northwestern islands of Hawaii
- Gray reef sharks – usually found in the Northwestern islands of Hawaii in areas with strong currents and reefs
- Bignose sharks – found in deepwater
- Great white sharks – rarely seen in or around Hawaii
- Shortfin mako sharks – enjoys depths of 110-920 feet
- Silky sharks – very rarely seen in coastal waters
- Blue sharks – moves closer to shore during the spring’s twilight hours, returns to sea for the day
- Thresher sharks – lives in open waters of depths over 500 feet
- Whale sharks – frequently seen feeding at the surface (only eats small creatures such as plankton)
- Oceanic white tip sharks – lives at depths of 500 feet and above, most common in the tropical areas
- Megamouth sharks – extremely rare. Lives in depths ranging from 40-420 feet
- Cookiecutter sharks – lives at extreme depths of 11,500 feet
Why You Shouldn’t be Worried about Sharks in Maui
Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to get killed by a rogue falling coconut than a shark. As mentioned, shark attacks are incredibly rare, and fatalities are even rarer. Being attacked or killed by horses, cows, bees, and many others things are more likely to happen before sharks.
If you are still concerned about the presence of sharks in Maui, there are some shark safety tips to make you feel safer.
Shark Safety Tips
There are a number of things you can do to make sure you stay safe while spending time in Maui’s waters. Whether you are surfing or swimming, there are some key things to remember. Let’s have a look at them below.
Pay attention to the placards posted in the area – placards are posted there for a reason, so if you see one saying there have been sharks in the area, pay attention to it.
Do not swim by the entrance to harbors or by fishermen – harbor entrances and the areas near fishermen are popular spots for sharks to hang around in since they offer good sources of food.
Do not swim during low visibility times like dusk or dawn – you should always be on alert and without visibility, you wouldn’t be able to tell is something was coming your way. Some sharks also prefer swimming near the coast during this time.
Avoid areas with low visibility, like heavy runoffs – you need to be able to see the water you are swimming in, and many sharks thrive in these kinds of murky waters.
Do not swim in murky water, especially after a storm – once again, you need to be able to see where you are swimming, and many sharks thrive and prefer to live in murky waters, especially for hunting.
Sharks are not only incredibly important to your ecosystem, but they are also highly respected in Hawaiian culture. They have places in the culture’s mythologies and stories, and even the locals prefer not to harm them in any way.
Their risk to you is minimal, and there are hundreds of other animals or activities that are most likely to kill you have these beautiful creatures. That is not to say that the risk is not there. There is always the tiny possibility of coming into contact with a shark, but this rarely happens, so shouldn’t be a deterrent to you. In many cases of when humans do come into contact with sharks, it is merely out of curiosity.
Some sharks, especially the smaller species, may swim up to you, but the likelihood of them harming you in any way is minor. With that being said, if you ever do see a shark swimming towards you, don’t panic. In the end, you probably have nothing to worry about, and they are just like sea dogs.
Hopefully this was helpful! Of course, there are sharks in and around Maui, but this shouldn’t be something to put you off swimming or surfing around the beautiful island. As long as you take the aforementioned precautions, you will be just fine.