October 23, 2013 at 3:19 am #732MikeKeymaster
This is actually a shark story, but reading between the lines make
me wonder what the heck caused the fish kill.
More Algae infestation?
Best to you all,
Fish kill at Honolua alluring to sharks
By MELISSA TANJI, Staff Writer
HONOLUA BAY – State and county aquatics specialists on Thursday were
investigating a fish kill near Honolua Bay that was attracting
sharks to the popular snorkeling and surfing area – forcing the
state to close a mile of shoreline to swimmers.
Maui County Ocean Safety Supervisor Archie Kalepa said six sharks
were sighted in the area of Honolua Bay and the adjoining Mokuleia
Bay, commonly known as Slaughterhouse Beach, on Wednesday when the
fish kill was first discovered.
Another five sharks, several up to 12 feet long, were sighted
Thursday morning, and three were still in the area later on
Aquatics specialists and ocean safety officials will review the
situation again today before determining whether they can reopen the
waters around Honolua/Mokuleia Bay.
Honolua/Mokuleia Bay is a marine life conservation district, popular
both for surfing and for snorkeling when the surf is down. But the
area also is considered prime akule-fishing grounds, and rules
establishing the conservation district specifically exempt akule
fishing from a general ban on taking fish or other marine life from
the bays. With its white sand beach and shallow ocean bottom,
Mokuleia is also popular with swimmers as well as bodysurfers.
The entire shoreline initially was closed Wednesday after officials
received reports of sharks in Honolua at around 10:15 a.m., Kalepa
said. When the aquatics specialists made area checks, they found a
school of akule, some of which were dying, he said. He said there
was no net around at the time.
“We suspect that’s why the sharks were there, because of all of the
fish in the water,” he said.
Akule, or big-eyed scad, is a common Hawaii food fish found in
schools that can contain thousands of fish 12 to 15 inches long.
On Thursday afternoon, at least three sharks were still in the area,
said Randy Awo, Maui branch chief of enforcement for the state
Department of Land and Natural Resources.
State aquatic resources specialist Russell Sparks, who was part of
the team investigating the fish kill, photographed the largest shark
and determined it was a tiger shark.
Sparks said the sharks were about 100 yards to 200 yards offshore,
and many were in the 10-foot range. He said it is rare for sharks to
be in the bay during the day just hanging around.
“They are not going to be hanging out in the bay like that unless
there is a reason,” Sparks said.
Sparks also cautioned swimmers and snorkelers that they should get
out of the water if they see big schools of dead fish or fish that
are acting erratically or strangely.
Kalepa said ocean safety officers along with DLNR staff members were
keeping people out of the water in the Honolua area Thursday and
posted signs on the beaches.
Shark warning signs also were placed at D.T. Fleming Beach Park a
half-mile south of Mokuleia as an advisory, even though it was never
closed, Kalepa said.
Awo said DLNR officers remained at the scene until after sundown to
keep people out of the water.
DLNR Chairman Peter Young issued a report Thursday saying both
enforcement officers and aquatic resources personnel would continue
to monitor the situation in the bay.
“Our investigations found dozens of dead or dying akule in Honolua
Bay. Several sharks, including at least one large tiger shark, were
observed feeding on the fish,” he said.
Awo said the school of dying akule might be a result of a commercial
akule operation and the state is looking for those who may have been
responsible for leaving the injured and dead fish.
Although there are no laws that would cover this type of event, “it
certainly appears to be an irresponsible practice,” he said.
“We need to, at a minimum, talk to the fisherman and ask what
occurred,” he said.
Sparks, a marine education specialist with the Maui District office,
said there were a number of small fish, including akule and
aholehole, hunkered down along the walls of the bay probably
avoiding the predators lurking in the deeper waters.
Although the state and county crews had little difficulty keeping
people from going into the water, Kalepa and Awo said they had a
problem with thieves stealing the warning signs that had been posted
“It’s important for us to warn the public and signage is a big part
of the type of tools we use to warn the public. We can’t be there
all the time. It’s really important for people not to take signs
posted by DLNR or ocean safety officers,” Kalepa said.
Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@….
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