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State to study 'unprecedented spike' in shark attacks off Maui

By Star-Advertiser & Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 2:03 a.m. HST, Aug 21, 2013

State officials Tuesday announced a study of tiger shark movements around Maui, following several recent shark attacks and the critical injury of a 20-year-old woman from Germany.

“We’ve seen an unprecedented spike,” said William Aila Jr, chairman of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The two-year study is scheduled to begin in September and will examine the behavior of tiger sharks on Maui compared with the other main Hawaiian Islands, Aila said at a news conference this afternoon.

He said Hawaii waters are safe if swimmers are cautious. But he said prevailing opinion is that there are more sharks and more people in Hawaiian waters, creating more chances for bites. 

There have been eight attacks statewide this year and 10 in 2012. Hawaii usually sees three to four attacks each year.

A German tourist lost her arm in an attack last week as she snorkeled off the coast of Maui and was on life support at Maui Memorial Medical Center, officials said Monday. On Sunday, a 16-year-old surfer suffered injuries to both legs after a shark bite in waters off the Big Island.

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