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Kula man details shark incident

Father and son whale watching as shark bit kayak

A Kula man and his son swam about a mile to shore after a shark attacked and sank their kayak Tuesday in what was described as an “unusual shark encounter.”

Daniel Sullivan called police just before 2 p.m. to report the attack that occurred while he and his 15-year-old son, Tristan, were kayaking in the Thousand Peaks area of Ukumehame.

Sullivan, who called The Maui News while waiting for police and state Department of Land and Natural Resources officers to arrive at the beach, said he and his son had launched the two-man kayak from the area along Honoapiilani Highway across from the Lahaina Pali Trail at 11:35 a.m.

“We were just whale watching,” he said. “It seemed like a good day ’cause there was no wind.”

The two were watching a baby whale at about 12:40 p.m. when the shark came from the opposite side and “flipped us over,” Sullivan said.

“I saw it just rise out of the water,” he said. “At first, we thought it was a whale.”

The shark bit the back of the kayak “inches from my leg,” Sullivan said.

“When we flipped it over, the teeth marks of the shark were through the bottom of the kayak,” he said.

The kayak began sinking, and it took father and son about 35 minutes to swim to shore, Sullivan said.

“The whole time, we thought the shark was on us,” he said. “I’ve lived on Maui 16 years, and this is the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me.”

The shark was reported to be a 10-foot tiger shark, according to a news release from the Department of Land and Natural Resources. It said the Division of Aquatic Resources and Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement were “investigating an unusual shark encounter.”

Shark warning signs were posted 1 mile from either side of the attack, with beaches closed from the Pali Lookout to Lone Pine in Olowalu until noon today.

“We’re both catching our breath,” Sullivan said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re going to go home and just take it easy.”

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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