WAIANAE, Hawaii (AP) – A 10-year-old boy is recovering from his injuries after being bitten by a shark off an Oahu beach that he said “just popped out of nowhere.”
As officials included the attack in a database, the youth on Thursday described how he kicked at the animal to end the encounter.
The boy, who was bitten Wednesday at Makaha Beach Park, is doing well and should be out of the hospital soon, said Bruce Anderson with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Anderson said “all evidence, including eyewitness reports, points to this being a shark bite,” and officials are confirming that with the International Shark Database in Gainesville, Florida.
It’s Hawaii’s seventh confirmed shark encounter of 2015, state statistics show. The average number of shark bites per year has doubled over the past decade, but scientists say that’s because there are more people in the water, providing more opportunities for encounters. There has been an average of about nine shark bites per year over the past five years.
“I was on the boogie board just waiting for a wave and then it just popped out of nowhere and then bite my leg,” the boy, Raymond Senensi, told reporters at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
He kicked the shark in the nose, but he wasn’t afraid, he said.
On Thursday morning, two surfers were in the water at Leftovers Beach Park on Oahu’s North Shore when a 10-foot shark chased them from the water, Honolulu Department of Emergency Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright said. Leftovers is the same beach where another man lost his leg when a tiger shark bit him on Oahu’s North Shore in early October.
Officials put up signs and warned beachgoers of the sighting. “No one is in the water,” Enright said.
At Makaha, lifeguards posted warning signs and made announcements over a loudspeaker telling people not to go in the water. Several surfers went in anyway.
In mid-afternoon, one surfer shouted he saw a shark jump out of the water and grab a fish. The lifeguards repeated their warnings. One lifeguard hopped on a personal watercraft, rode out to the surfers and told them to get out of the ocean.
Meanwhile, the state prepared for another round of giant waves from a low-pressure weather system in the Pacific.
U.S. Coast Guard and Honolulu police also are searching the water for a big-wave surfer who was reported missing after going surfing Tuesday on Oahu’s North Shore. Police said they found his truck with his dog and keys still inside Thursday near Waimea Bay.
High-surf warnings were issued Tuesday and Wednesday for all north-facing Hawaii shores with waves up to 30 feet, which would have made the waters turbid. Most shark bites in Hawaii this year have happened in murky water.
Carl Meyer, a shark and reef researcher at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology, said Hawaiian oral traditions and current statistics show shark bites are more common in the fall, known to be tiger shark pupping season, when the animals have their babies.
Brian Keaulana, a professional surfer and son of famed surfer Buffalo Keaulana who was at Makaha on Thursday, said fishermen have been seeing tiger sharks eating pig carcasses a short way up the coast.
Enright said that the pigs were still being spotted on Thursday, prompting officials to keep warning signs posted and people out of the water.
“The boy was part of our community,” Keaulana, who used to be a lifeguard at the beach and was born and raised in the area, said. “So when he got attacked, the response was really quick and fast.”
Anderson said this is the first shark bite at Makaha Beach Park in 46 years. In 1969, a surfer was injured by a great white shark in the area.