Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Hotel considers
shark warnings

Sunday's attack off Maui
prompts a policy review

By Gary T. Kubota

LAHAINA >> The general manager of a Maui resort near the site of a shark attack Sunday said officials will look at what they should tell guests who venture into the ocean in the future.

Jerry Jamesson of Embassy Vacation Resorts Kaanapali said because there was no history of a shark biting a visitor in the vicinity of the resort in the 13 1/2 years it has been in existence, officials didn't make it a special point to warn guests about sharks before the attack.

"That's something we're going to have to revisit," Jamesson said.

Julie Glance, 34, of San Diego was attacked while swimming more than 100 yards offshore fronting Embassy Vacation Resorts.

She is recuperating at Maui Memorial Medical Center after suffering wounds to her right shoulder, forearm and hand.

Glance, whose family was staying at Embassy Vacation Resorts, indicated she was unaware of the five other shark attacks in Hawaii this year, including two on Maui, and hoped visitors were made aware of the dangers of sharks.

Jamesson said at this point, resort employees are telling visitors that a guest was bitten by a shark and that the beach was closed from Sunday through Monday noon.

He said guests haven't asked many questions because they're aware of what happened off the beach.

Jamesson said that if asked, the beach crew is advising visitors to stay near shore.

He said water conditions were choppy yesterday but some people did scuba-dive in waters off the property.

Jamesson said the resort might have the beach crew give more information about swimming precautions.

State and county aquatic experts advise swimmers not to swim alone or in murky water, to stay within the reef, and not to wear bright or shiny material, including jewelry.

Maui Visitors Bureau Executive Director Marsha Wienert said her group distributes information about water safety through its 800 number and Web site.

But she said the information does not specifically mention shark attacks on Maui.

Wienert said the bureau may increase its section about ocean safety, but won't specifically refer to shark attacks for the same reason it doesn't single out Portuguese man-of-war stings -- the warning would be too lengthy.

She said in terms of injuries to tourists, the number of shark attacks is "very small."

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