Usually, we want to be scared just for fun on Halloween, but last week in Maui a string of three shark attacks left victims and beach goers scared for their lives! All three attacks occurred on either side of the isthmus in the middle of “The Valley Isle” during a six day period. The shark attacks also coincided with the passing of Hurricane Ana which made the water very murky, ideal for ambush-style shark attacks.
On Saturday, October 18th Kaleo Roberson was surfing with his three young sons at “Freight Trains” in Maalaea Harbor. Next thing he knew he was staring at the open mouth of a 14ft Tiger Shark coming right for him and his sons.
“It was something you dream of on ‘Shark Week,'” Roberson said. “It was so close to me, and the mouth was so open when it came up. It was in pure attack mode, and it was just right there. I was basically in its mouth.”
Roberson then put his board between him and the shark and punched and kicked at the predator as it lunged for him.
“Right then, I realized I was fighting for my life, and I had my sons with me so I took my board, and I started swinging it. I don’t care if this thing bites me, but if my pride and joys are making it to the beach safe, then I’ll feed this thing my leg if I have to,” he said.
No one was injured, but the shark left a 14-inch bite mark on Roberson’s board.
Police, lifeguards, and state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials cleared other people out of the water. The department closed 3 to 4 miles of nearby beaches until the following Monday.
The following Tuesday a stand-up paddler’s board was bitten by a shark in Kahului Harbor. The 58-year-old paddler was unharmed.
And then on Wednesday, October 22, two female stand-up paddlers Kim Lawrence and Terry Lee were about 200 yards offshore of Waipuilani Beach Park in Kihei in about five to six feet of murky water. At about 10:00 am Lee saw a giant gray tiger shark open its mouth and knock her friend Lawrence off of her paddle board.
“It bit down on her board right here, as you can see all the marks,” Lee said pointing to Lawrence’s board. “She fell off and the shark slowly went under her…and she was struggling to get up so you couldn’t see if the shark had her legs or she if she was getting up on her own,” said Lee.
“I felt the shark rub up against me. My thought was, ‘Oh my God…he’s gonna bite my leg.’ My instinct was to kick. So I kicked really hard with my heel…still trying to get on my board to get my momentum…so I stepped right off of his back to get back on my board,” Lawrence said.
Officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources measured a 14-inch bite mark.
Both Lawrence and the 58 year old paddler were uninjured.
Officials in some areas asked people to keep out of the ocean through the following Sunday, with Honolulu Ocean Safety Chief Jim Howe noting there was plenty of brown water from runoff, which attracts sharks.