String of Shark Attacks Hit Hawaii as Surf Season Begins
On Tuesday, November 3rd a man was attacked by a Tiger Shark on the Big Island of Hawaii while swimming. The attack was the second in less than a week on the island chain, and the fourth in less than a month! The recent attacks brings the total for the year up to 8, well above the three to six average from years past. The attacks coincide with the start of the fabled North Shore surf season, when thousands migrate from around the world to tackle large surf on Oahu.
The man, 54, was in the water Tuesday morning at the clothing-optional (!?!) Kehena Beach. He told emergency paramedics that he was wearing fins, and the shark ripped off one of the fins, injuring his ankle. The man waved for help, and other beach goers assisted him back to shore. He was about 100 yards offshore at the time, in turbulent waters.
Just last Wednesday, October 28th a 10-year-old Raymond Senensi was bit just off the shore at Makaha, a popular surfing beach on Oahu’s West Side. The boy says he “didn’t panic” when a shark leaped out of the water while he was bodyboarding and clamped down on his right thigh. “I kicked him with this leg and then I kicked him in the nose. And then, I didn’t panic,” Senensi told reporters at a news conference Thursday, the day after the attack. The boy made a quick recovery after receiving dozens of stitches.
On Oct. 17, 44-year-old Anthony Lee was seriously injured when a shark bit his feet as he swam at Lanikai Beach on Oahu’s North Shore.
That attack came shortly after Colin Cook‘s more horrific attack on the North Shore of Oahu on October 9th. The Rhode Island man was attacked only 200 yards offshore at the surf break Leftovers when he was pulled under by an estimated 12 foot Tiger Shark. A nearby stand-up paddleboarder came to his aid and struck the shark with his paddle. The man brought Cook to shore awkwardly as the aggressive shark circled the two men hanging on to the SUP. Cook lost his leg below the knee and suffered severe hand lacerations.
The other incidents this year were:
- On Sept. 20, a 27-year-old Kohala, Hawaii man suffered severe leg injuries when a 13-foot tiger shark bit him.
- On April 29, a 65-year-old woman was killed while snorkeling off Maui’s Ahihi Bay. The woman was in 20- to 35-foot-deep waters, and was about 200 yards offshore.
- On March 18, a 60-year-old man suffered cuts to his forearm, left arm and thigh while standing in 4-foot-deep water off Hapuna Beach on the Big Island. Authorities said the man was bit by a 8- to 10-foot-long tiger shark.
- On Jan. 27, a 20-year-old Maui man was bit by a shark he had caught while fishing in Lahaina.
All of the shark attacks come from the notorious Tiger Shark, a species found on all of the Hawaiian Islands. The Tiger is resilient shark, feeding on anything it can fit into it’s mouth. It’s often referred to as the “garbage can of the sea” by fisherman who have found a myriad of objects in caught specimen’s stomachs. The Tiger Shark’s favorite prey are the many sea turtles that frequent Hawaii’s beaches, often just a few feet from shore.
Scientists say the shark attacks are not because of more sharks, but because there are more people in the water, providing more opportunities for encounters. Regardless, lifeguards and surfers will be on edge as the Triple Crown of Surfing kicks off on November 12th at Haleiwa Beach, just a few miles from Cook’s October 9th attack.