A 51-year-old woman is recovering in a Hawaiian hospital following a shark attack on Wednesday, a harrowing ordeal that unfolded unexpectedly in the waters off Makaha Beach Park.
The victim, known locally as “Aunty Lulu” according to Hawaii News Now, was swimming around 2:30 pm when the attack took place. She was roughly 300 yards from shore when Makaha Beach lifeguards suddenly heard her screaming as a shark bit into her shoulder and arm.
There were five surfers in the water at the time of the attack, and one of them, G-No Opfer, was the first to reach the injured woman. His shortboard was unfortunately too small to transport her back to shore, so he yelled for a friend, Danny Boro, who had entered the ocean that day equipped with a longboard. According to Boro, when he reached the victim, she said that she was having trouble breathing as a result of her injuries.
“So what was going through my mind was, I was kind of freaked out myself as I was paddling her in because everything was happening so fast and I didn’t know how much blood she lost and so I was just, as much as I could, get her on my board and get her to the other rescue board.”
— Epic Diving (@epicdiving) September 3, 2016
Jason Patterson, an Ocean Safety lieutenant, noted that the woman suffered deep gashes on both her shoulder and forearm. She was rushed to a trauma center in serious condition, where she is now recovering, according to Fox News.
While it remains unclear exactly what species of shark was responsible for the attack, Boro related that he was able to get a look at the animal while rushing to her rescue. According to him, the shark in question was at least 10-feet-long, sporting a dorsal fin that would be sure to frighten beachgoers from the water.
“As we got her on the big board, I was the last one out there by myself. I turned around I saw a big fin, I can honestly say it was like a 10-foot tiger shark…the fin was like about two and a half foot… so I think it was a 10-foot tiger shark.”
Tiger Shark swimming at you. Photo by Alex Dawson. pic.twitter.com/E9yqKMd85h
— Before I Die (@omgbucketIist) September 7, 2016
The attack is the second to be reported in the Pacific this week, following the untimely death of a 50-year-old man in New Caledonia, as the Inquisitr recently reported. Though the species of shark responsible for that attack has yet to be determined, witnesses to the incident described a large animal, which bit into the victim’s thigh, spurring him to suffer a fatal heart attack.
— HuffPost Hawaii (@HuffPostHawaii) September 8, 2016
Despite this week’s events, unprovoked shark attacks remain an exceedingly rare occurrence worldwide, and fatalities reported in connection with them are even rarer. According to the International Shark Attack File, just 98 people experienced such an attack in 2015. While that proved to be a record-setting year, only six of those attacks resulted in fatalities, which is in keeping with long-term trends according to George Burgess, curator of the file.
“We need to make sure we understand that those 98 attacks resulted in only six deaths, which is precisely the average number of deaths we’ve had per year over the last decade. So while there were more lesser bites, the more serious ones of course resulting in fatalities were at the average that we’ve seen for the last decade.”
Following the attack in Hawaii, lifeguards cleared the beach and patrolled the area, but were unable to locate the shark responsible for the incident.