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UPDATE: More Sharks Spotted, Kona Park Remains Closed

June 18, 2013, 4:16 PM HST
* Updated June 19, 3:07 PM
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***Updated at 1:48 p.m. and 3:07 p.m. Wednesday, June 19.***

Kekaha Kai State Park, the location of Tuesday’s shark attack, will remain closed today because of the continued presence of sharks in the area, state and county officials said.

Eight reef sharks up to five feet long were observed in the northern part of Mahaiula Bay during a flyover today, said Battalion Chief Gerald Kosaki of the Hawaii Fire Department.

He said there was no sign of the 12- to 14-foot tiger shark spotted near the shore following Tuesday’s attack.

“They did a thorough search for the large tiger,” Kosaki said.

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Such searches typically extend to the outer reefs, he said.

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Following the state’s shark-sighting protocol, another flyover will be done at about 8 a.m. Thursday. If no sharks are sighted, the park will be reopened.

Meanwhile, the victim of Tuesday’s attack, James Kerrigan, is recovering in stable condition at Kona Community Hospital. (A hospital spokeswoman said that the 28-year-old patient gave permission for the release of information.)

Kerrigan told Big Island Now that he never saw the shark that attacked him..

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 Posted at 4:16 p.m.:

A Kona man was bitten by a shark early this afternoon off the North Kona coast.

Police said the 28-year-old man was swimming about 100 feet offshore of Mahaiula Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park shortly before 1 p.m. when he spotted a shark.

As he attempted to swim to shore the shark bit him on the right thigh and calf and then released him.

The swimmer made it to shore where bystanders, including a volunteer firefighter, helped to stem bleeding from lacerations to his leg both above and below the knee.

The sign posted at Mahaiula Beach today following the shark attack. DLNR photo.

The sign posted at Mahaiula Beach today following the shark attack. DLNR photo.

The fire department’s Chopper 2 based in South Kohala transported the man to Kona Community Hospital.

A tiger shark of between 12 and 14 feet in length was sighted near the shore shortly after the attack, police said.

The park, which is also known as Kona Coast State Park, was closed until further notice by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

A DLNR spokeswoman said both Mahaiula Beach in the southern portion of the park and the Kua Bay section to the north were closed.

The park will be closed until at least noon Wednesday, pending flyovers by the fire department to determine whether any sharks remain in the area.

Previous shark attacks on the Big Island include one on Jan. 16 involving a surfer at Kiholo Bay, located about eight miles north of today’s attack.

The victim in that incident was surfing about 200 yards offshore when he was attacked by what was believed to be a 15-foot tiger shark.

Today's shark attack on a swimmer was the second this year in West Hawaii waters. A juvenile tiger shark is shown in this Wikimedia image.

Today’s shark attack was the second this year in West Hawaii waters. A juvenile tiger shark is shown in this Wikimedia image.

Prior to that, there were attacks on the boards of two surfers in 2011 at the Lymans surf spot near Kailua-Kona, but neither surfer was injured.

On May 10, 2003, a 20-year-old Kamuela man swimming between Kahalu`u Beach and Magic Sands in Kona suffered injuries to his lower right leg after being attacked in eight feet of water.  The shark was estimated to be six feet in length.

Also, on Oct. 1, 1999 a 16-year-old boy surfing off the Old Kona Airport Park was bitten on his right arm.

***Updated on Wednesday, June 19, with information on the 2003 attack.***

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