By Wendy Osher
Maui board shaper, Dave Peterson, has a new title to add to his business cards–that of shark attack survivor.
Peterson was about 300 yards off shore of a popular Central Maui surf break known as the “Bone-yard” on Thursday, October 18, when a 6-9 foot shark chomped down on his paddle-board while he was still on it.
Peterson said he was standing on the board waiting for a wave when the shark, described as dark gray in color, came up and knocked him off into the water near Kanaha Beach Park.
“I fell down and landed on the shark and it was biting my board,” said Peterson in a phone interview shortly after the attack.
Peterson, who is a Pukalani resident and owner of Maui Dawn Patrol at the Pauwela Cannery, said he able to fend off the shark with his paddle, but was relieved to be alive.
During an afternoon visit to his board shaping shop in Haiku, Peterson put his hands around a crescent shaped bite mark left in the middle of his board.
Peterson said he felt “lucky” to be alive, describing the shark’s behavior as aggressive, and unexpected.
In the moments after the incident and throughout the day, crews from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Ocean Safety Officers were on hand to patrol the area and post warning signs along a stretch of beach from Kahului Harbor to “Camp 1” near Spreckelsville.
The first order of protocol was to get people out of the water, said Ocean Safety Officer Jake Darr, who was alerted to the situation upon arrival at work.
While Peterson had seen sharks in other areas before, he said he was taken off guard because of the clear conditions and the presence of other people in the water.
Both Darr and Ocean Safety Captain Keola Brown spent much of the morning answering questions from curious beach-goers about the beach closure and sharks in general.
While the exact identity of the species was undetermined, officials said it could have been a tiger shark because of the size and aggressive behavior.
“To see a shark in the water is not much cause for surprise,” said Darr who explained that the ocean is where sharks live.
“But,” he said, “if you found one at home on your couch, that’s another story.”
The beach closure will remain in effect for the remainder of the day, and ocean safety crews are expected to reassess the area at sunrise on Friday.
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