Kawika Matsu, 37, from Hawaii, was paddle boarding about 90 metres from shore in English Bay on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean when what he says was a 12-14 foot great white shark knocked him off his board and bit him several times. He suffered severe injuries to his right shoulder, torso and leg.
Bleeding profusely, he managed to get back on the board and wait to be rescued. The island rescue service brought him ashore and he was taken to the local hospital.
His mother was quoted as saying: “As he was trying to get back on the board, that’s when [the shark] came back and got him on the right buttocks and chomped a big portion off and again, a little bit of the thigh.”
He spent several days in the island hospital, before being flown to Florida, United States for further treatment.
His mother said members of the tiny island community donated blood to save Kawika, but, because of the its remote location, it took three days to fly him to a mainland hospital.
His older brother was quoted as saying: “My brother was a strong swimmer. We grew up in Hawaii and are watermen – second generation surfers and very comfortable in the water. He was well aware of the amount of sharks there.”
Daniel Schempp, commander of the US Air Force unit on Ascension was quoted as saying: “He sustained critical bite wounds to his torso and is lucky to be alive, only kept so by the heroics of the small US and UK medical teams on the island, and because of the donated blood supplies of volunteers.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay his medical bills.
Zoe Steyn, a teenager, was surfing Nahoon Reef, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa, on Friday afternoon, 7 July 2017, when a 2.5m-3m Great White shark bit into her board and pulled it from under her. She was not injured.
According to a report in the Daily Dispatch, adaptive surfing champ JP Veaudry, who was in the water at the time ‘swam towards the screaming teen after the shark pulled the board out from beneath her’. He paddled with her to the surfer’s walkway across the reef and helped her ashore.
“My first thought was to get out of there, but I couldn’t just leave her. She said she didn’t know if she’d been bitten. I paddled with her to the slipway and when we got out she said it hadn’t bitten her. But I saw it bit her board in exactly the place where her arm could have been.”
Tristan Wantenaar, 33, who was bodyboarding a few metres in front of Zoe at the time of the attack said he heard her scream and turned around to see the large dorsal fin of the shark thrashing.
“It grabbed her board and thrashed it from side to side. She was trying to get back on her board to get out of the water.”
Zoe was uninjured in the incident.
The shark attack sparked a debate on the Zigzag surf mag forum about whether it was an encounter or an attack.
Zoë is my daughter. She is as passionate about the environment as she is about surfing. The declining shark population is of great concern to her! She will be back in the water tomorrow for our local trials. We are very grateful that her encounter/ attack (call it what you will), left her unscathed. Also, all you guys who rushed to her aid and paddled back to shore with her are just awesome! That’s the spirit we try and instill in our children, and testimony to the camaraderie in the surfing community!! We are truly grateful!!!
Paul Goff, 48, was bodyboarding 30 metres off Casuarina Point in Bunbury, Western Australia, when a 4-metre great white shark knocked him off his board and then returned and bit his board before disappearing.
Paul made it to shore uninjured, but he was treated for shock. He did not need to be taken to hospital.
A 14-year-old boy (name withheld in local media because of his age) sustained minor lacerations to his right calf after he was bitten by a shark while he was surfing with two others at The Waves surf spot on Keurbooms beach, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. The incident took place around 5pm on Saturday 29 April 2017.
Shark researchers suspect that it was a 2-metre great white shark, going by the size of the bite marks.
He was treated by NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) medics and by paramedics on the scene for lacerations to his right calf before being transported to hospital by ambulance in a stable condition.
According to media reports, the teenager was surfing with two other surfers. At the take-off zone he turned to catch a wave when he saw a fin approaching him; he felt a bump and he felt a bite on his right calf.
He caught a wave to the beach where he was met by his father, who had witnessed the incident, and bystanders who aided and called paramedics.
There had been several sightings of sharks in the bay the day before, prompting the NSRI to issue a warning to surfers and swimmers.
“The increase in shark inshore presence at this time of the year is part of the normal aggregation of these animals. Sharks are aggregating in this area at this time, as they have done in previous years, to take advantage of naturally occurring prey like seals and fish close inshore,” the NSRI said in a statement.