Shark attack victim shares experience about getting bit in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A 26-year-old visitor is recovering in the hospital after she said she was bitten by a shark off the Big Island. Dozens of people were out on the water at the time.

The apparent shark attack was reported at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island.

Fire officials say from an aerial view they saw a reef shark and tiger shark in the bay about 50 feet away from people in the water. The victim’s wounds indicate it could’ve been a smaller shark.

We learned the 26-year-old woman who’s visiting from the mainland suffered injuries to her lower back and right hip. A witness described the shark as having a grey tip. Fire officials tell us the woman was able to make it to shore on her own.

“She felt something bump her and she was in the shore break at the time. According to her, she was 50-100 feet offshore and the water was a little murky for the shore break due to the South swell,” said Emergency Operations Battalion Chief William Bergin.

Not including this latest event, the state has recorded 8 shark incidents so far this year. That’s more than double last year which had 3 reports, and more than two years ago which recorded 5.

“According to some local fisherman in the area, they said this time of year there’s a lot more fish in the bay so that attracts the shark, and also possibly some dolphins birthing in the area could be attracting the sharks,” said Bergin.

Shark warning signs are posted and the popular bay, along with kayak rental shops in the area, is closed at least until noon Wednesday.

The 26-year-old visitor provided her personal account of what happened:

I am happy to be recovering following a shark encounter that happened on
August 20th in Kealakekua Bay.


On Tuesday morning, I was snorkeling in the bay. I was returning to shore after swimming near a pod of dolphins.

I was about 30 feet off shore timing out the waves to climb out of the water.

Something bumped me pretty hard on my back.

At first, I had no idea what it was.

But then, I think adrenaline kicked in when I realized I was bitten.

The shark it knew it had made a mistake; that I wasn’t its natural prey. It let go.

I looked back and saw the shark’s face out of the water as it turned and swam away.

Then, my natural instincts took over. I knew I had to make it to shore, and screamed for help.

Thankfully, people came to help me out of the water and put pressure on my wounds.

I can’t remember their names, but everyone at the bay was incredible.
I walked to the parking lot and waited for the EMTs who arrived almost immediately.

I am receiving excellent care at Kona Community Hospital.

I would like to thank everyone from the Medic 6 EMTs and hospital staff for their care and compassionate professionalism.

Finally, I’ve been living and working at a bed and breakfast near Kealakekua Bay since coming to the Big Island.

I am especially grateful to the B&B owners, who have become my guardian
angels during this scary situation.

I appreciate everyone’s concern.

For now, I will not be doing interviews so that I can focus on my recovery.

Thank you.

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