WENDY OSHER / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
Shark-bite victim Peller Marion showed her bandaged foot at Maui Memorial Medical Center yesterday. CLICK FOR LARGE
Shark victim glad to keep limbs
The Monday shark attack on Maui brought intense energy, pain
After surgery to repair her shark-bitten foot, a California visitor took time yesterday to reflect on her close brush with a fearsome force of nature.
Peller Marion, 63, a psychologist and author, said the attack came without warning as she snorkeled in about 10 to 15 feet of clear water off Wailea, Maui.
As a pain like a "terrible toothache" shot up her leg, Marion was struck by the intense energy radiating from the beast thrashing beside her. "I'm just happy to come away from the incident with all of my body parts."
WAILUKU » California resident and frequent Maui visitor Peller Marion was taking her usual morning swim at her favorite Maui beach when she felt something clench onto her foot from behind.
"It felt like a terrible toothache," said Marion, 63, a consulting psychologist and author from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Marion's initial thoughts of a turtle turned quickly to a shark when her new Maui Dive Shop flipper popped off and she turned to see "what looked like a wall."
"I didn't see it (the shark) like you see it at the Maui Ocean Center or in picture books because it was turning around as I was turning around." The energy coming off of the shark, Marion said, "was something I had never experienced before."
Marion was snorkeling a couple of yards offshore at Keawakapu Beach in about 10 to 15 feet of water when the shark attacked about 8:30 a.m. Monday. She said it took her about five minutes to clumsily swim close enough to shore, where she began to scream.
Marion, who has been visiting Maui two to three times a year since 1993, said she was taking her usual swim from the Wailea Ekahi condominiums, where she was staying, toward the Mana Kai condominiums on South Kihei Road. Marion said she used to go snorkeling with friends, but ventured out Monday by herself and just looked for a safe route near shore.
Shark attack victim Peller Marion of San Francisco laughed yesterday during a news conference at Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku. CLICK FOR LARGE
"It was crisp air and the water was clear," Marion said. Just prior to the attack, Marion had observed black-and-yellow striped fish in what she described as fairly flat conditions.
Russell Sparks, an education specialist with the Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Aquatic Resources, said that while water conditions were calm and clear, the time of day and low activity in the water could have been contributing factors.
Sparks said people are at higher risk of a shark attack if they are in the water by themselves. "Predators like sharks generally become more active early in the morning or late in the day," he added.
About an hour before the attack, a surfer reported seeing what appeared to be a tiger shark at the nearby Kamaole II Beach. Had she known about the report, Marion said, she would have stayed on shore, as she had done last year when Canadian visitor Kyle Gruen suffered bite wounds to his left thigh and hand while swimming between Kamaole I and II.
Marion said of the November 2006 incident, "I gave the shark six days' vacation" before venturing back into the water.
Marion was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where she underwent surgery Monday for injuries that included several fractures to her right foot and a large gash on her calf.
Marion and her husband have been on Maui since April 30 and are scheduled to return home at the end of the month. Her hospital stay is expected to last three to five days as doctors monitor the wound to prevent infection and blood clots.
"I'm just happy to come away from the incident with all of my body parts," Marion said.
Marion, who is a consulting psychologist to corporations, said, "My psyche and I have not discussed any of this yet."
She added, "Sometimes things happen and it takes decades to realize it was a life-changing event."