KAILUA-KONA — A shark attack at Kukio Bay during the weekend has nearby residents shocked, scared and confused.
“The local community is buzzing about this,” said north Kona resident Michael Domeier, who lives 5 miles from Kukio Golf and Beach Club. “There (are) so few details, it’s hard to dig into this.”
Domeier, president of Marine Conservation Science Institute, said many rumors have been flying around about Saturday’s incident.
What was officially confirmed is Hawaii Fire Department received reports at about 11 a.m. Saturday of a man being bitten by a shark at Kukio Bay. Emergency responders say the 25-year-old was paddleboarding with his father about 100 to 150 yards offshore at the time the encountered happened.
Members of the outdoor pursuits staff from the Kukio Community Association responded to the attack by taking a four-person canoe out, recovering the man and bringing him back to shore.
The victim was taken to North Community Hospital and then flown to The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. Authorities reported the victim suffered multiple injuries to his hand and leg.
He was reported to be in critical condition Saturday. Hospital officials had no update about his condition as of Monday evening.
“Everyone just gets horrified that something like this could happen,” Domeier said. “I remind them that the number of car accidents on the road is horrifying and more frequent.”
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources was notified about the incident Saturday. DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison said the state agency took an initial report.
On Sunday, according to Fire Department officials, a flyover from Kukio Bay to Kawaihae was performed to determine if the shark left the area or if there were others. Authorities say the only shark spotted that day was a tiger shark in waters off Kawaihae, which is not uncommon since they frequent that area.
The species and size of shark in Saturday’s attack are unknown.
“A paddleboard looks like a floating dead whale or monk seal, so sharks are gonna check it out,” Domeier said. “Sharks don’t intentionally eat people. It’s always mistaken identity.”
Domeier explained that sometimes the way people move in the water stimulates the animals, causing a predatory response.
“When you get in the water, there’s always a small risk you’re going to encounter a shark,” he said.
According to the Marine Conservation Science Institute website, Domeier is known for his work with pelagic fishes, white sharks, California coastal fishes and coral reef fishes.
The institute is a nonprofit organization focused on research on how to manage marine resources.
Email Tiffany DeMasters at firstname.lastname@example.org.