GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Signs warning beachgoers at Lanikai about shark sightings went up yesterday afternoon following a shark attack that injured a snorkeler. CLICK FOR LARGE
Beaches close after a snorkeler is bitten on the calf off Bellows
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Beaches from Lanikai to Waimanalo Bay will be closed this morning until further notice after a shark attack yesterday.
The victim, 36, was snorkeling off Bellows Air Force Station near the end of Tinker Road when he was bitten on the calf. He was taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition.
Ocean safety officials will begin patrolling at dawn, using personal watercraft or walking the beach from Lanikai Beach to Sherwood Forest, looking for any signs of a shark. They are asking people to stay out of the water until an assessment is complete.
"We're asking people, for one day, break away from your daily routines until we're done with the assessment," said Bryan Cheplic. "We want to patrol the entire area to make sure it's safe before we give the area over."
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A 36-year-old man was in serious condition yesterday after a shark bit him on the calf near Bellows Beach -- prompting the evacuation of swimmers from the water and closure of two beaches.
At about 3:15 p.m. Harvey Miller was swimming about 150 yards off Bellows Beach when he suffered an apparent shark bite, said Bryan Cheplic, Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokesman.
Before emergency and rescue crews arrived, bystanders brought the man to shore near the end of Tinker Road and helped control his bleeding. Paramedics took him to the Queen's Medical Center in serious but stable condition, Cheplic said.
After the shark attack, there were two separate reports of a shark feeding on a turtle.
Ocean safety officials evacuated swimmers from Lanikai Beach to Waimanalo Bay, a mile in each direction from the shark attack.
Lifeguards closed beaches at Bellows Air Force Station for a minimum of 24 hours, said Hickam Air Force spokeswoman Bette Kalohi.
Kalohi said the victim was a guest of a cabin renter and was snorkeling when he showed signs of distress.
Kalohi said no one witnessed the attack, but bystanders noticed he needed aid and helped him to the beach.
"He was alert and talking with people in a light manner," she said.
According to Bellows employees, she said, it was the first shark attack in the area in 16 years.
A patrolling helicopter spotted no shark, but firefighters on foot and by boat warned people to stay out of the water, said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig.
Until ocean safety officials complete an assessment of the area, the zone from Lanikai Beach to Waimanalo Bay will remain closed to swimmers this morning.
The public should stay out of the water until officials finish the assessment, Cheplic said.
At about 3:45 p.m., off Lanikai Beach, a resident witnessed a tiger shark attacking a turtle. Fronting a private residence on Lanikai's southern end, the turtle beached itself and later died.
"It's got big, what appears to be, shark bites," Cheplic said.
Another lifeguard said one of the turtle's flippers was bitten off. Officials from the National Marine Fisheries Service took the turtle away.
A short time later, a rescue craft operator off Bellows Beach witnessed a tiger shark feeding on another turtle. The shark was reportedly about 6 to 8 feet long, Cheplic said.
Some Kailua residents took news of the attack in stride.
Don Nelson usually swims Lanikai Beach every day and was checking out the commotion yesterday at Kailua Beach Park.
"It's a little concerning," he said. "I'll stay out of the water, give it a week."