Kiholo State Park Reserve reopened at 1:30 p.m. today after a 43-year-old man was bitten by a shark Wednesday evening while surfing at Kiholo Bay.
The call was made after a Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources staff member aboard a Hawaii County helicopter observed no sharks between Kiholo Bay and the county’s Spencer Beach Park, according to DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward. The beach was closed shortly after 5 p.m. when the shark attack was reported.
The man was bitten on his right forearm by a tiger shark around 5:10 p.m., according to the Hawaii Fire Department. An on-duty battalion chief said the victim described the tiger shark as “big” and a “monster.” The man was transported to North Hawaii Community Hospital in stable condition.
Hospital spokeswoman Krista Anderson said the man was flown later Wednesday evening to The Queen’s Medical Center. West Hawaii Today was not immediately able to reach Makana McClellan, The Queen’s Medical Center’s spokeswoman.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, under the authority of which the park falls, said the man was surfing with a friend about 200 yards offshore when he was bit on the right arm and also suffered injuries to his knee. A worker at a private home on the north side of Kiholo Bay summoned emergency help for the surfer.
DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources Education Specialist and member of the state Shark Task Force John Kahiapo said the shark involved is believed to be a tiger and at least 15 feet in length. He said the man was able to paddle back to shore on his own power where he was helped by several bystanders and residents.
Neither Kahiapo, nor the DLNR, had further information on the man’s condition today.
Shark attacks are relatively rare in West Hawaii. In 2011, there were two reports of sharks biting boards, but not injuring the riders, near Lyman’s surf spot in Kailua-Kona.
Prior to that, an attack occurred in October 1999 when a 16-year-old boy had his arm bitten by a 6- to 8-foot shark while he was surfing shortly before sunset off Old Kona Airport Park, according to West Hawaii Today archives. An unconfirmed attack was also reported April 1987 in Kailua Bay and a confirmed attack occurred in 1963 off South Kona, according to the archives.