Shark bites surfer


POSTED: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ocean Safety officials and state enforcement officers will meet at 6 a.m. today to consider reopening a stretch of South Maui shoreline that was closed all of yesterday following a shark attack.

A 6- to 8-foot shark bit into of a surfer's board and then his leg before dawn yesterday at the popular “;Kalama Bowls”; surf break.

The 54-year-old surfer, who was sitting on his board at around 6 a.m., suffered deep lacerations on the front of his upper right thigh and the lower part of his right ankle, according to officials with the state Division of Aquatic Resources. He was treated and released from Maui Memorial Medical Center.

The man was between 100 and 300 feet offshore when the incident occurred, and one of only three people in the water at the time, according to state authorities.

“;The radius of the shark bite was 25 inches, so the bite marks are consistent with a possible tiger shark,”; said Archie Kalepa, ocean safety supervisor on Maui.

“;If you look at our 10 tips to avoid shark incidents, this incident appears to have violated most of the top ones,”; said Russell Sparks, an education specialist with the aquatics division. “;There were two other people in the area, no one else around, it was very early in the morning, well before sunrise, and the water was all turned up and murky because of the surf.”;

Kalepa said a fellow surfer helped the injured man out of the water and across the street to the Foodland parking lot, where they called 911 at about 6:13 a.m.

When ocean safety officials arrived, they used a megaphone to clear three to four people from the water at Kalama Bowls, and about 30 to 40 people from Cove Beach to the south.

Kalepa said the surf was 2 to 4 feet, with some larger sets, and no wind.

“;We thought it might be difficult to keep people out of the water because of the nice surf, but everyone was totally cooperative and listened to what we were telling them,”; said Kalepa.

Word of the incident spread quickly in the surfing community. Kihei resident Kaimana Nakamura received text messages from two surfing buddies who were among those ushered out of the water.

;[Preview]    Kalama Beach Surfer Is Bitten By Shark

Beaches in Kihei on Maui remained closed after a surfer was bitten by a shark

Watch ]


He said that although it is discouraged, going out early is tempting because of the pristine conditions, solitude and lack of congestion on the water.

“;It's the only place I can surf that's close enough and I can still get to work on time,”; said Nakamura.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr., a cultural specialist and member of the state Shark Task Force, noted the importance of sharks in the Hawaiian tradition as aumakua, or ancestral deities.

He emphasized the importance for respect, saying, “;It's often a case of mistaken identity when a shark attack occurs because humans make similar noises that a stranded fish or seal would make, triggering a shark's senses from a mile away.”;

“;From an ocean safety standpoint, there are times when we advise people not to go out into the water, and this would be one of those times,”; said Kalepa.