HONOLULU (KHON2) — The family of the 58-year-old surfer bitten by a shark at Kewalo Basin told KHON2 he has lost his right foot. Marine life experts said it’s unusual for sharks to attack in that area but the recent rainy weather may have contributed to the attack.
The family has identified the shark bite victim as Mike Morita, who is a regular surfer at Kewalos.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
Honolulu Emergency Medical Services said Morita was bitten just before seven o’clock Sunday morning. Ocean Safety points out that friends in the lineup made a tourniquet with their surfboard leashes, which probably saved the man’s life.
Signs were still posted Monday morning telling people to stay out of the water, while lifeguards and officials with Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources patrolled the area. Surfers are still in disbelief at what happened.
“I saw the board and I said oh my God, wow, because he’s so close to Ala Moana and that this moment there’s so many people on the beach,” said surfer Felipe Trujillo.
Surfers said they see sharks out there fairly regularly but they’ve never seen them actually attack a surfer.
“Yeah, all these years I’ve been surfing. I’ve never heard of shark attacks by Ala Moana side, they’re kind of rare,” said surfer Eric Kagawa. “Plus it’s super shallow out there.”
According to the DLNR website, the last time a shark attack was reported in Kewalos was in 2002. Marine experts said the recent rainy weather may have contributed to the incident.
“And it’s right at the mouth of the Ala Wai Canal so all the water that runs down the mountains and feeds into the Ala Wai was being flushed down there, and that carries all these interesting scents and smells and garbage and things that will just attract the sharks in from outside,” said Andrew Rossiter, Waikiki Aquarium Director.
Officials said Morita was bitten by an eight-foot tiger shark.
Rossiter said those types of sharks are fairly common in the area.
“They see them practically every time they’re there, but on this occasion, it was about an 8-foot-long shark so probably an adolescent, a little bit less selective in what it’s gonna bite,” said Rossiter.
Morita’s family sent a statement, thanking the brave surfers, first responders, and hospital staff who saved his life.
His son added, “He has a long and difficult road ahead of him. My dad is a fighter and even though he’s facing a setback now, you all know that won’t stop him.”
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with the medical bills. Click here to view the page.