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from Nando Times


Hawaiian teen loses foot in shark attack

March 27, 2002

LIHUE, Hawaii (March 27, 2002 2:21 p.m. EST) - With a shark biting on his leg and thrashing him about in the water, Hoku Aki started tearing at the most sensitive part of the fish's body he could reach - its eyes.

On Tuesday, the 17-year-old sat in a hospital bed strumming a ukulele as he talked about the attack in murky water off Kauai that cost him one of his feet.

Aki had been body boarding about 150 yards off popular Brennecke Beach on Monday when witnesses saw him suddenly dragged under.

"I opened my eyes and I could see the shark," Aki said. "It was tossing me all over the place. I heard my leg break. I heard the bone snap.

"I tried to open the mouth and get it off of me, that didn't work. I grabbed the shark's eye and ripped it out and he let me go."

Aki struggled back to shore, where a nurse visiting from Colorado used a towel to slow the bleeding until firefighters and paramedics arrived. He said he could see his leg was torn up, but "I didn't really notice my foot was gone until I was in the ambulance."

National Marine Fisheries Service biologist John Naughton said hitting at the shark's eye was the right thing to do. "They generally release where the guy hits or fights, especially around the sensitive areas of the gills or the eye," he said.

Aki's father, Harmon Aki, said his son was doing well, all things considered.

"He's a strong boy," he said. "We're thankful. It could have been worse. We still have him with us, and that's good."

Monday's attack was the second reported in Hawaii this year. On New Year's Day, a California man was treated for bite wounds on his thigh and buttocks. For last year, researchers at the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File recorded 76 unprovoked attacks worldwide, including four in Hawaii.

On Tuesday, another shark was sighted in the area where Aki was attacked, prompting officials to close about two miles of beaches popular for snorkeling and body surfing.

A rainstorm had turned the water in the area murky. That raises the danger of shark attacks, because the animals have acute non-visual senses, and murky water gives them a feeding advantage, Naughton said.

Copyright © 2001 Nando Media

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