27-year-old Swimmer Bit Twice in Hawaii's 9th Shark Attack of 2019
A 27-year-old woman in Hawaii is alive after she was bitten twice by a shark on Tuesday while swimming in Kealakekua Bay, a historic state park on the western side of the Big Island.
According to Hawaii Police, the woman — whose identity has not been released — was swimming in the waters of Kealakekua Bay’s Napoopoo Park Beach at approximately 8:00 a.m. local time when the shark attacked.
She received flesh wound injuries to her lower back and right hip area, police said, and was transported in serious condition to the Kona Community Hospital. She was later reported to be in “good health” by authorities and is expected to be released.
Lalu Gardner, a tour guide for Adventures in Paradise Kayak and Snorkel, was on the scene at the time of the attack.
He told West Hawaii Today he was taking a group out for a morning tour when he heard a blood-curdling scream coming from nearby.
“She was about 30 feet from shore, blood everywhere,” Gardner said. “A wave came, and she got swept back to shore.”
Bystanders helped the woman, who was visiting the island, out of the water and waited with her until the arrival of medics, West Hawaii Today reported. Meanwhile, Gardner took his tour group to safety, warning other swimmers nearby.
Hawaii Fire Department Ocean Safety personnel also helped tow kayakers to safety, while Hawaii County helicopters flew in to provide assistance, as well as aerial views of the area, West Hawaii Today reported.
The shark was described as having a gray tip, police said, noting witness accounts.
Hawaii Fire Department Battalion Chief William Bergin told the Associated Press the animal is likely a 6-foot black-tip reef shark. He said an influx of fish in the area at this time a year attracts sharks, and the high surf makes visibility in the water for swimmers poor.
Kealakekua Bay is known for its bright blue waters and vibrant sea life, its coral and schools of tropical fish attracting millions of snorkelers, scuba divers, and kayakers a year.
The bay will remain closed until at least noon on Wednesday, which is standard protocol after a shark attack, West Hawaii Today reported.
There have been several other previous shark encounters in Hawaii this year, the AP reported. One was fatal.
Last year, only three incidents were reported, the AP said. Five were reported in 2017.