Hawaiian Officials Warn of Uptick in Shark Attacks in October, Fall Months
PHOTO: October 2015 saw three shark attacks off the shores of Oahu. (Photo via Flickr/Joe Boyd)
Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources is encouraging beachgoers to be vigilant this fall as shark attacks tend to peak in October.
West Hawaii Today reported there have been 122 unprovoked shark attacks in Hawaii waters over the past 35 years, with more than 20 percent of those attacks occurring in the month of October.
"October is the month with the greatest number of shark bites," Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Bruce Anderson told West Hawaii Today. "We recommend ocean users exercise a little more caution this month especially, and also through the end of the year."
While visitors looking to swim and surf off of Hawaii's beloved beaches this fall would be wise to heed state officials' advice, it doesn't mean they should avoid the ocean altogether.
"The chance of being bitten by a shark in Hawaiian waters is always extremely small, but does increase a bit during this time frame," added Anderson.
According to researchers at the University of Hawaii, shark attacks are more likely during October and the other fall months because its the time of year when nearly one-quarter of female tiger sharks that usually inhabit the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands migrate to the main islands to give birth.
Researchers told West Hawaii Today that the increased concentration of sharks near popular Hawaiian beaches and increased appetites due to depleted energy stores are primary factors in increasing the likelihood of an attack.
Dating back to 2012, there have been a total of 12 shark bites in Hawaii waters in the month of October, including three last October off the shores of Oahu, where Honolulu is located.
Although the potential to encounter a shark increases slightly this time of year, Anderson says beachgoers can significantly reduce their risk simply by exercising common sense.
"The best thing ocean users can do to minimize their risk of shark bites is to utilize beaches with lifeguards, stay near other people, and don’t go too far from shore," he told West Hawaii Today. "Also, avoid murky water and areas near stream mouths."
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