David Peterson was standing on his paddle board waiting for a good wave Thursday morning near Kanaha Beach Park.
"All of a sudden (I get) knocked off my board. I didn't see anything," he said. "I landed on the back of the shark. It had a hold on my board. . . . It wouldn't let go. I started beating it over the head and yelling at it."
Finally the 6- to 8-foot shark let go of the board after Peterson repeatedly hit it with his paddle.
David Peterson, whose stand-up paddle board pictured here was bitten by a shark while he was surfing Thursday morning near Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului, remained upbeat later in the day at his Maui Dawn Patrol custom surfboard and stand-up paddle board shop in Haiku. Peterson was uninjured in the attack.
DEB LYNCH photo
But then the shark came between Peterson and his board. Using his hands Peterson pushed the shark away and jumped back on his paddle board.
"It happened pretty fast," the 55-year-old Pukalani resident recalled Thursday morning in a telephone interview from his surfboard and paddle board shaping shop, Maui Dawn Patrol, in Haiku.
Peterson, who wasn't hurt, said he initially was going to stay out in the surf lineup, noting, "you know lightning doesn't strike twice."
But when he looked down at his 9-foot-6-inch board, it was damaged and would be taking on water soon, so he paddled to shore.
Peterson said he suffered only some scrapes from when he climbed back on the damaged board.
In response to the incident that occurred around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, county ocean safety officers and officials from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the beach and ocean for one mile on either side of the area, stretching from the mouth of Kahului Harbor to the Kahului side of Spreckelsville, officials said.
The situation will be reassessed today to determine if the area can be reopened to beachgoers.
The type of shark involved was unknown, but the incident happened about 300 yards offshore, according to the DLNR.
Peterson said that in his 40 years as a water enthusiast he had never come face to face with a shark.
He apologized to fellow ocean enthusiasts about the closures and hoped they wouldn't be upset with him because "the waves were good," around 4 feet or so Thursday morning.
Fellow stand-up paddle boarder and friend Trip Lynch witnessed the incident, although his account is slightly different from Peterson's.
He said Peterson was about 30 to 35 feet away from him when he saw Peterson in the water "flailing like crazy with his paddle."
"The first thought that crosses my mind is 'what the heck is he doing that for?' " Lynch recalled.
But then he realized his friend was trying to fight something off.
Lynch said Peterson got back on the board and was knocked off.
"He's flailing around with the paddle a second time," Lynch said. "He hops back on the board and stands up real fast. He calls out my name, and he says 'Did you see that?' "
Lynch said he came to Peterson's side, inspected him and didn't see any blood.
The shark left around an 11-inch bite across Peterson's board, but it did not bite a piece off of the board, Lynch added.
He said that through the ordeal he didn't see a full body of a shark, but saw some "gray stuff" and a fin.
"This was an attack," Lynch said. "It was not just an unfortunate incident."
Lynch said the shark wanted a piece of that board, and according to Peterson, it didn't want to let go.
Fellow paddle boarder Deb Lynch, who is married to Trip, was in the water at the time but wasn't as close as her husband to the attack.
"I'm just glad everything was good," she said. Peterson's "foot was so close to where the shark bit on the board. He's a really, really lucky guy."
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.