A 12 to 14-foot tiger shark bit a surfer in Hawaii October 9.
Mitch Milan decided to catch a few waves off Davidsons Beach on Kauai before meeting his wife for a prayer meeting.
Milan and his friend Gary Watkins were about 150 yards out around 6:30 p.m.
“It was getting to a point where I was like I need to get out,” Milan said. “I don’t want to be out here at dark.”
Watkins was 25 to 30 feet away from Milan who was sitting on his board with his legs and upper torso in the water as he held onto the edge of the board with his hands.
“All of a sudden from my left side I just felt this mass of movement ram into my board and knock me off.
“It just kind of blew me back to the back right-hand corner, and the shark took the board forward and out to sea.
“Where my hand was resting on my rail, that’s where its mouth clamped around and . . . it took a big giant chunk out of the board,” the 54-year-old said.
“I fell back and I was like, oh my God, that’s a shark! I am being attacked by a shark! It took the board in its mouth and it was thrashing,” he said.
Thankfully, Milan was using a longer 10-foot leash. If it had been the normal 6-foot leash, the shark could have dragged Milan out to sea.
“As it hit, I fell back. I definitely felt pressure on my hand. But [it wasn’t] until I was in the water without the board, and the shark was swimming away, [that] I looked at my hand and [saw] blood going everywhere. I went oh, good golly. This isn’t a good thing!”
He was able to pull the leash, and the shark let go of the board and dove down.
Milan said his friend Gary Watkins showed up within 2 or 3 seconds telling him, “We gotta go, we gotta go! That is a shark! That’s a shark! We gotta get out of here.”
Milan was able to pull his board back underneath him and caught a wave back in.
“I looked over my shoulder, I was paddling as hard as I could with blood shooting out of my hand.
“I stood up and there was Gary, and I thought we had ridden the same wave in. I found out later, Gary had come nose to nose with the shark as well. Because he missed the wave, he turned around and looked and saw the shark was swirling right in front of him, and he went and aimed [his board] straight at the shark,” Milan said.
“Gary looked at the wound and said, you’re not going to die, but we need to get you to the hospital.”
The two climbed up the rock embankment and crossed the road to Watkins’ car and headed to the hospital emergency room.
Three hours and 50 stitches later, the ukulele player and member of the band Call It Joy, left the hospital.
“No tendons damaged, no veins lacerated and no broken bones. I really dodged a bullet and I absolutely don’t know how. This could have been curtains,” he said.
Based on the bite mark, the shark has been estimated to be 12 to 14-feet in length. Milan is thankful for the medical care he received and credits the doctor’s skill with saving the tip of his ring finger which was nearly severed.
Milan plans on getting back in the water. “I blame this on pilot error; it’s not the shark fault. I’ll get back in, it’s just a matter of time.”
This is the second shark attack bite reported in the area this year.
A 12-foot tiger shark bit a surfer off Kekaha Beach, Kauai April 14.
Baboo Bourdenx, was around 100 yards (91m) offshore when a tiger shark bit his leg.
The 28-year-old French surfer’s leg was amputated just below the knee.
Hawaii has historically had a higher number of shark attacks bites during the month of October.
There have been a total of 84* shark attack bites in 2017, 5 of which were fatal*; 42 were reported in the US, with 28 occurring in Florida** and two in Hawaii. Twelve have been reported in Australia, one of which was fatal. Five unconfirmed worldwide and not included in the total count.
All locations have been marked on the 2017 Shark Attack Bites Tracking Map.
*Two may be scavenge. **One report may have been outside of Florida waters.