A 68-year-old man has been left injured in Hawaii after using a diving knife to fend off what witnesses identified as a large tiger shark. It is the second report of a threatening shark interaction in the North Pacific islands in the space of a week – the first having ended with the disappearance of a female snorkeller.
The latest incident involved a swimmer 300m offshore early yesterday morning (13 December). It is not known whether he was a resident or visitor or why he was carrying the knife, but he was said to have used it to force the shark to release its grip on his backside, and escaped with puncture injuries and lacerations to his hands.
He was helped to shore by nearby paddle-boarders, taken to hospital and later said to be in a stable condition, with his injuries not considered life-threatening.
The incident occurred in Anaehoomalu Bay in Waikoloa in the north-west of the main island of Hawaii. Helicopter crew later spotted a 3.5-4.5m tiger shark in the vicinity, and a shark warning was issued.
Five days earlier, a 60-year-old woman visiting from Washington state vanished while snorkelling 50m off Keawakapu Point in Maui, the island to the north of Hawaii, after an apparent shark encounter. She had been in the sea with her husband on the late morning of 8 December.
The shark had reportedly circled the two snorkellers, and when the man lost sight of his wife he had returned to shore to raise the alarm. An air-sea search operation was mounted but later called off.
Six shark incidents have been recorded in Hawaii this year, including another in Maui in September that resulted in a snorkeller losing one arm and two fingers from the other hand.