Maui Shark Attack: Snorkeler Loses Arm After Attack

A Maui shark attack has left a German woman critically injured after a shark tore her right arm from her body.

The woman was snorkeling close to 50 yards off the shore at Palauea Beach, and officials said choppy water limited her visibility. Other swimmers heard her scream for help, and though no one actually saw a shark it was presumed from her injuries that it was indeed a shark attack.

“Her right arm was severed right below the shoulder,” Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.

The woman was placed in a kayak to return to the shore and lost consciousness during the short trip. She was rushed to Maui Memorial Medical Center, but officials said they were not able to find her arm.

After the Maui shark attack a team of fire department officials and life guards flew along the coast in a helicopter searching for sharks.

The Maui shark attack was the fifth this year, part of a surge in shark activity in the past two years. Though Hawaii has seen an average of close to five shark attacks per year, last year there were 11 and already eight so far this year.

There has not been a fatal shark attack since 2004, however. Officials say fatal attacks are unlikely given the crowds of people in the waters.

The most common attacks from from tiger sharks, and wildlife officials believe they may be biting largely out of curiosity. Authorities recommend snorkeling or swimming with other people and avoiding going into the water at dusk and dawn, when sharks move closer to the shore to feed.

But despite the warnings, there have been a number of high-profile incidents this year. Another Maui shark this month led to beach closures across the island. A woman was snorkeling in 10 feet of water when she was bitten by a shark, and incident that took place just three days after another swimmer was attacked in Hawaii.