Shark attack may have been caught on video
A 58-year-old Marina Del Rey, Calif., man may have captured video of the shark that attacked him Tuesday morning off Kaanapali, leaving him hospitalized with two deep lacerations on his right thigh.
The man remained at Maui Memorial Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon and declined requests for interviews, said hospital spokeswoman Carol Clark.
Police recovered a video camera that was attached to the surfboard the man was on when he was attacked, said police Capt. Mollie Klingman, officer in charge of the Lahaina Patrol District.
The video was being held as evidence as police continued to investigate the incident reported at 8:20 a.m. at 106 Kaanapali Shores Place, Klingman said.
The man reported that he was sitting on a surfboard, with both legs in the water, about 100 yards offshore of the Maui Kai condominium when he was attacked, she said. He was able to paddle himself to shore where bystanders assisted him.
“He’s very, very fortunate,” she said.
The man remained conscious, she said, while his wound was “bleeding pretty heavily.”
Maui Kai General Manager Chuck Massey said the victim was one of the owners at his 79-unit condominium.
He said his office called 911 emergency dispatchers after he was alerted to the attack around 8:15 a.m. Massey said he took the man’s wife to the hospital, where the man was in “stable condition” Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s in pretty good shape,” Massey said, although hospital officials want to keep him a day or two for observation after he underwent surgery.
He said he had a word with the man for “just a second” before he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
The man asked people about his surfboard and camera, he said.
Massey declined to identify the man or his wife, saying they wanted to remain anonymous, at least for the time being.
Klingman said she had not personally reviewed the videotape taken from the camera on the man’s surfboard, but she was told something in the water could be observed. She said she was hopeful someone from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources with an expertise in sharks will be able to identify the species of shark from images on the videotape.
“It will be really interesting to see if the camera was running or if it captured any footage of the event,” said Carl Meyer, an assistant researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.
Historically, it’s been extremely rare for shark attacks to be caught on film or videotape, he said. But now with the technology of video cameras, such as GoPro, and with surfers using them, the chances are increasing that photographic evidence will be gathered of the attack and enable people to accurately identify the species of shark.
In most shark attacks, people are taken by surprise, and they describe the shark as being either gray or brown, not enough information for experts to identify the species, said Meyer, who has done extensive research on tiger sharks.
Shark species have been identified when a tooth breaks off in something, such as a surfboard, he said. Or there have been occasions when attacks have been witnessed by people familiar with sharks.
If the camera were on, the image might be blurry or the shark might not be in the field of view, he said.
“Typically, we have very minimal information when someone gets bitten by a shark,” Meyer said, and that makes species identification “pretty tough.”
The victim told authorities that the shark had a head “the size of a basketball,” according to a Maui County news release.
Surfers who were nearby at the time of the attack reported seeing a gray, 4-foot-long shark nearby. County lifeguards said they believe that it was a reef shark.
Firefighters described the victim’s wound as being a 6-inch bite in the outline of a shark’s jaws.
Following the attack, ocean safety officers ordered surfers out of the water and closed the shoreline from Black Rock to Honokowai, a mile in either direction of the attack, officials said.
Warning signs were posted, and officials said the nearshore waters were not expected to be reopened until noon today.
Police classified the case as a “miscellaneous accident.”
Massey said he’s worked at the Maui Kai for 15 years, and “this is the first time I’ve ever heard of anything” like a shark attack occurring nearby.
The incident marked the first reported shark attack this year in Maui County waters.
The last reported attack was Nov. 30, when 61-year-old Oregon visitor Tom Kennedy was bitten while he and relatives were snorkeling in waters off of Halama Street in Kihei. He sustained multiple lacerations to his lower left leg and thigh. Kennedy said he believed that the shark that attacked him was a 10-foot tiger shark.
There were at least four other attacks reported last year:
* On Nov. 4, Marcelino “Marc” Riglos, 30, was attacked by what was believed to be a 12- to 15-foot tiger shark, while he and a friend were spearfishing in waters off of the Waiehu Golf Course. Riglos suffered injuries to his right ankle and foot.
* On Oct. 27, a 51-year-old California woman was attacked by a shark, estimated to be 10- to 12-feet long at Makena Landing. She suffered puncture wounds to her right inner thigh and lacerations to the front and back of her right hand from pushing the shark away. News reports identified the woman as Mariko Haugen.
* On Oct. 18, 55-year-old David Peterson of Pukalani had his stand-up paddle board bitten by a shark off of “Kite Beach” or Kaa Point, near Kanaha Beach Park. He was uninjured.
* On June 26, a 16-year-old California girl was attacked by a shark in shallow water at a Kahana Beach fronting the Hololani Resort in West Maui. News reports identified the girl as Sage St. Clair, who suffered a 4- to 5-inch gash to her left calf. Officials believed that the injuries were caused by a small reef shark.
A sea turtle was attacked by a shark Oct. 22 at Kanaha Beach Park. It suffered suffered massive wounds to one of its flippers and had to be euthanized.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.