JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Elizabeth Dunn, visiting from Vancouver, Canada, rested yesterday with boyfriend Chris Smith after surviving a shark attack near Shark's Cove on the North Shore. Dunn suffered several bite punctures on her left leg through her wet suit.
Shark bites surfer's leg on North Shore
Liz Dunn faced her worst fear when a shark bit her leg, piercing it to the bone, while she surfed the North Shore yesterday.
"The bite was almost not the scariest part -- it was seeing the fin," a jagged dorsal fin a foot and a half wide at its base, said the 28-year-old visiting surfer from Canada. "I knew it was a big, serious shark."
Dunn was attacked shortly before 11:40 a.m. at a surf spot called Leftovers, about a mile south of Waimea Bay.
"I had just gotten the perfect wave --- one of the best waves of my life, but I rode it so far that I ended near the murky water," said Dunn.
Dunn was unaware sharks are attracted to murky water, and would have stayed out had signs been posted.
People are discouraged from entering the ocean after heavy rains because muddy runoff, especially near stream and river mouths, attracts sharks.
City lifeguards posted shark warning signs and encouraged people to get out of the water between Laniakea and Waimea Bay after the attack.
National Marine Fisheries Service biologist John Naughton said, "People are absolutely crazy to be surfing in these conditions."
"I'm almost surprised it hasn't happened earlier with all the debris and mud in the water," he said.
Leftovers is not near a stream or river, but near-shore waters there were murky because of several weeks of heavy rains, said Brian Cheplic, city Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division spokesman.
Dunn had just begun paddling back out in muddy water through the channel where waves were not breaking.
"I felt a big bump under my board," said Dunn, who guessed it was a big rock or a turtle. She saw something move, then felt the bite on her calf.
The gray shark kept circling her, with the large fin above, then below the water, and Dunn feared the worst.
"I screamed, 'Shark, help!'" Dunn said.
"It felt like it took a taster bite," she said.
The bite left three puncture wounds near her shin. The largest was 2 1/2 inches wide and went to the bone.
Two local men with whom she was surfing heard her screams and rushed to her aid.
They pulled her to shore on her 7-foot board and later washed her wounds at a private home with soap and water, and wrapped it in paper towels and blue packing tape.
Dunn thinks her wet suit protected her leg and might have prevented a serious bite.
Her boyfriend, Chris Smith, drove her to Kahuku Hospital, where she received a tetanus shot and intravenous antibiotics and her leg was bandaged.
Last June, she moved to Vancouver, Canada, where she teaches, among other things, statistics at the University of British Columbia.
Dunn admit she has a shark phobia, but she feels a little safer now knowing that statistically it is less likely she will get bitten again.
Also, "I know I don't taste good, 'cause I got spit out," she said.
Star-Bulletin reporter Nelson Daranciang contributed to this report.