comscore Thieves blamed for loss of signs warning about sharks | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Whatever Happened To

Thieves blamed for loss of signs warning about sharks


Question: Whatever happened to those signs saying, “Warning … Sharks may be present,” on metal posts at Olowalu on Maui?

Answer: According to state aquatics education specialist Russell Sparks, since posted in 2002, the signs are the only place in the state where there are permanent shark warning signs — and they have become the object of souvenir stealers.

Thieves have been actively removing about 10 every year from the metal posts, Sparks estimated.

With the invention of small portable saws, the poles are too easy to cut, he said.

“Tourists are the worst. They take them home,” he said.

The thieves work fast.

Virtually all the temporary cardboard signs were taken on the first night they were posted in 2002, shortly after a New Year’s Day shark attack.

Most of them were recovered the next morning at a campsite of visiting teenagers.

The next signs were made of metal and attached to the metal posts so the screws could not be removed.

The thieves began using saws to cut the posts.

Sparks said about three months ago, he began posting most of the signs on kiawe trees and he’s hoping thieves will have more difficulty taking them.

The signs were posted permanently at Olowalu after three shark attacks in a little more than 10 years.

Martha Joy Morrell, 41, died in November 1991 as she swam near her beachfront home in Olowalu.

Henrietta Musselwhite, 56, of Geyserville, Calif., suffered lacerations on her back and a puncture wound to a thigh on Oct. 18, 2000, when a shark attacked her in 30 feet of water about a half-mile offshore.

Thomas Holmes, 35, of Los Angeles was snorkeling with his girlfriend when he suffered cuts to his right buttock and both thighs from a tiger shark on Jan. 1, 2002. But he survived by hitting the shark on the nose.


This article was compiled by Star-Advertiser reporter Gary T. Kubota. Suggest a topic for “Whatever Happened To …” by writing Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813; call 529-4747; or email

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