State confirms Waikiki surfer bitten by eel

10-17 waikiki

EDITOR’S NOTE: The video above is from Saturday night’s newscast before a statement was released Sunday morning reporting to the contrary.

The Dept. of Land and Natural Resources reported Tuesday that an authority on shark/human interactions has confirmed that a surfer was bitten by an eel off Waikiki Saturday night.

The surfer, who wants to remain anonymous, got injuries to his left foot. DLNR staff interviewed the victim, and the information he provided, along with photos of his injuries, were discussed with George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File in Florida. The details of the Saturday incident reinforced Burgess’ opinion that the animal involved was an eel, not a shark.

Sharks of various species occur in all waters of the state, including those off Waikiki. To date, there has never been a confirmed shark bite off Waikiki in 20 years. Given the large number of ocean users in Waikiki waters, this suggests that the normal behavior of sharks is to avoid interactions with people.

Lifeguards patrolling waters off Waikiki Sunday morning after the previous evening’s incident found no signs of any shark. They had no visual reports confirming the marine animal involved the previous evening was a shark.

Shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday, a 33-year-old local swimmer was bit in the left foot.

Paramedics took the victim to Queen’s Medical Center in serious condition.

There were no lifeguards on duty at the time as their shifts ended at 5:30 p.m.

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