21 October 2005

Hawaii: Surfer fights off tiger shark

The man is uninjured in an incident off Maui that officials believe involved a tiger shark. The shark punched out of the water, its nose hitting Clayton Sado's knee, its teeth driving into the 22-year-old's surfboard.

In an instant, Sado was fighting to stay on the board. As the shark thrashed from side to side with the surfboard in its mouth, Sado hit the shark's nose and frantically tried to push it away.

"I was just thinking, 'Don't tip me over. Don't tip me over,'" Sado said. "It was fighting very much."

Then, the shark let go and slipped underwater.

Sado said he had been surfing for about three hours Thursday afternoon off Honokowai on Maui when the close encounter happened. He yelled to a surfer buddy and two boys surfing nearby to get out of the water.

Then, for about 15 grueling seconds, he waited nearly motionless on his board.

"I waited for the courage to stick one hand in and paddle," he said in a telephone interview yesterday from his Kahului home.

"When I got to shore, immediately I was just jumping around. I was jumping for joy just to be alive."

Sado estimates the shark, which had a gray, rounded head, was about 8 feet long. John Naughton, a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist, said the animal was likely a tiger shark searching for turtles.

Beaches in the area weren't closed because Sado didn't notify authorities right away about the incident, which happened about 6 p.m.

His mother called authorities Friday, and the state is investigating. State Shark Task Force spokesman Randy Honebrink said he plans to fly to Maui this week to inspect Sado's surfboard.

Sado had gotten in the water right after work Thursday.

The shark went for his board when he was about 100 yards off the beach, just as he was starting to paddle back to shore to call it a day.

Sado's 39-year-old surfing buddy was about 20 yards away and saw his friend flailing around in the water, but didn't know what to make of it.

After the shark swam away, "he gave me that look like, 'what the hell just happened,'" Sado said.

Sado said he's been surfing most of his life and has frequented Honokowai. On Thursday afternoon, the water was a bit murky, but not any more than usual.

When he got home, his relatives were shocked to see Sado's shark-bitten surfboard. His mother wanted him to quit surfing.

But Sado says he'll just quit Honokowai.

"There are other surf breaks I can go," he said. "I just want to be respectful."

This is the fourth close shark encounter on Maui this year.

On June 18, a tiger shark "bumped" a Maui man while he was swimming in waters off Kamaole Beach Park.

A month earlier, a 9-foot tiger shark bit a kayak about a half mile off Kihei. And on May 2, a shark bit a surfboard in 6-foot waters about 70 yards off Paia.

Source: starbulletin.com


Post a Comment

<< Home