South Kohala Information Update for January 3rd, 2021

Anaeho'omalu Bay reopens Sunday afternoon (January 3rd) following a shark encounter incident that occurred Saturday, January 2nd offshore of Anaeho'omalu Bay.

Published by: HIRSC - Hawaii Island (Holualoa) Team

The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) Chopper 2 at 8:20 am Sunday morning (January 3rd) conducted an aerial survey of the waters and coastline of the Waikoloa Beach Resort following an apparent shark bite incident that occurred Saturday morning (January 2nd) that left a 68-year-old woman seriously injured.

An aerial survey including an overflight of waters from Kiholo Bay (including a loop over Anaeho'omalu Bay) to Kawaihae Harbor. The results of the aerial survey conducted Sunday morning came up with negative findings. With the results received from HFD, notice was given to Department of Land and Natural (DLNR) Officials and Waikoloa Beach Resort staff to safely reopen the Anaeho'omalu Bay and surrounding waters/coastline at 12:00 pm Sunday afternoon.

DLNR - Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) personnel continue to investigate the incident and working to identify the size and species of shark involved in Saturday's incident. DAR Officials say an official report be published at the completion of their investigation at a later date.

According to historical records and incident reports provided by DAR, the last shark encounter incident that occurred at Anaeho'omalu Bay was on April 23, 2019, at 8:30 am approximately 35 yards from shore in about waters estimated to be 30 feet deep. Paddler suffered severe lacerations to the inner right thigh, lacerations, and puncture wounds to the inner right calf. Requiem shark, length 6-8 feet. (“Requiem shark” is by DAR to indicate a member of the family Carcharhinidae that cannot be identified with certainty, but tiger shark can be excluded.)

This is the first shark encounter incident for Hawaii Island and for the State of Hawai'i for 2021.

Initial update from Saturday, January 2nd, 2021:

The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) responded to a report of an apparent shark bite near Anaeho'omalu Bay in South Kohala Saturday morning (January 2nd).

The initial call came in at 8:01 am Saturday morning and HFD Crews from the South Kohala Fire Station along with Chopper 2, HPD Officers from the South Kohala Patrol, and DLNR DOCARE Officers responded to the scene located at Anaeho'omalu

Upon the arrival of emergency crews, reports came in from bystanders reporting a swimmer (described as a female in her 60s) was approximately 500 yards offshore of Anaeho'omalu Bay and suffered an apparent shark bite (description and size of the shark not immediately disclosed) to the lower right leg (injuries occurred below the right knee and described as serious and traumatic). Following the bite, bystanders on a commercial boat nearby went to the aid of the female swimmer began basic medical treatment, and transported her to Anaeho'omalu Beach to await the arrival of emergency crews. The female swimmer was conscious and alert during the incident.

Once emergency crews arrived at the scene, HFD personnel immediately took over medical care of the female swimmer and later transported her by HFD Medic to the North Hawaii Community Hospital in serious condition. Following the patient transport, HFD Chopper 2 conducted an aerial survey of the surrounding waters near Anaeho'omalu Bay, however, came up with negative findings.

Since the incident, DLNR - DOCARE Officers have posted signs and Anaeho'omalu Bay and surrounding waters have since been closed to the public following the apparent bite and will reopen the beach following a negative finding result from an aerial survey that is scheduled for Sunday morning (January 3rd).

DLNR continues to investigate the incident and will release further details at a later time.

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