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Victim Reveals More Details About Shark Attack

April 30, 2019, 3:35 PM HST (Updated May 1, 2019, 11:29 AM)
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Kimberly Bishop and her husband, Kim. Courtesy photo, April 2019.

Kimberly Bishop is home from the hospital, recovering from an April 23, 2019, shark attack that occurred several hundred yards off the coast of Anaeho‘omalu Bay on Hawai‘i Island.

At 8:35 that morning, the 65-year-old part-time Waikoloa resident was bitten on her thigh after being bumped off her kayak.

Bishop and her husband have spent at least a couple of months at their Waikoloa Beach Resort condo each spring for the last nine years. They rest of the year, they reside at their home in Southern California.

The couple has a long history with the Big Island area. They were engaged at Anaeho‘omalu Bay 35 years ago and have been returning regularly to the area ever since. Their son and his wife were just married there in March.

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Tuesday morning, Bishop set out before 8 a.m. from Anaeho‘omalu Bay in her blue kayak and her husband accompanied her on stand-up paddle board. They headed out quite far, she said.

Bishop contacted Big Island Now via email to share more details about the incident; the phone she had aboard her kayak in an water-tight bag is now at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

“I was particularly interested in taking photos of the returning coral and fish as the water was very clear,” said Bishop in an email to Big Island Now.

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There was no prior indication of shark in the area, she said.

“I was really keeping my eye out for them,” said Bishop.

Shark bit marks on Kimberly Bishop’s kayak, April 2019. Courtesy photo.

Suddenly, her kayak was rammed with “a force like a truck and my kayak overturned,” said Bishop.

“I started shouting ‘Shark! There’s a shark!’ to my husband, who was about 100 feet away.

He began frantically padding toward his wife.

Around the same time, she felt, but did not see the shark bite her leg.

“Not sure if the shark was planning to return for a full meal, I dropped my phone and tried to climb atop my overturned kayak,” said Bishop. “I was unable, however, to get my legs out of the water and knew I was bleeding, so I dropped myself back down into the water and was able to right the kayak.”

“My husband said he could see the shark fins behind me, but I don’t have any recollection of seeing it,” she said. “Just as I was pulling myself back into the kayak, my husband reached me and was able to balance the kayak as I got in. I told him that I had been bitten, but initially, he could not see it. He gave me the leash to his paddle board to hold onto as he started to padding toward A-Bay Beach.”

Shark bit marks on Kimberly Bishop’s kayak, April 2019. Courtesy photo.

Her husband was also waving, trying to get the attention of people on the beach.

The couple said it took about 15 minutes for Waikoloa Canoe Club outriggers to reach them. The paddlers told her to hold onto their boat as they rowed in.

In the meantime, paramedics had been reached by another outrigger paddler and were waiting at the beach when the Bishop arrived. The paddlers helped get her to the gurney and then to the ambulance.

She was eventually transported in stable condition via Chopper 2 to North Hawai‘i Community Hospital for emergency surgery.

“The wound is about 13-inches in diameter and quite deep,” Bishop said, “but fortunately, no arteries or nerves were hit. I believe surgery took a little over an hour.”

“Dr. Wong is my hero,” she added. “I have 69 staples and probably 50 or so stitches.”

Dr. Howard Wong is a general surgeon at the hospital.

“The rescue personnel and trauma unit at North Hawai‘i Community Hospital were outstanding,” said Bishop.

She was able to walk the night of the attack and returned home on Saturday, April 27, to further recover.

“I’m fine!” she said. “My husband and I even made it to the shore twice to watch the sunset, and look out on the location where our excitement took place.”

Her advice: Don’t go out alone, stay close, and avoid murky water and areas where turtles are gathering.

“That being said, we did those things… so you just never know,” said Bishop.

She doesn’t know exactly how or why she survived the attack.

“Who knows?” she asked. “Maybe the shark was just done with me.”

She attributes most of her luck to “staying calm and my husband’s actions.”

The Waikoloa Canoe Club members were heroes,” Bishop said. “We went to the beach this morning (Tuesday, April 30) to thank them and joined their club.”

She recommends that others not to let fear prevent them from experiencing life.

“We will be out on the ocean again, for sure,” she concluded.

Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources and other experts ruled out a tiger shark as having been involved in the incident. They believe the shark was probably a 6-to-8-foot long Galapagos shark.

Kim disagrees.

“It wasn’t a six foot shark, it was bigger than that for sure,” he said. “I believe it was a tiger shark based on pictures I’ve seen.”

Tiger shark. BIg Island Now file photo.

Shark expert Michael Domier agrees that it was most likely a tiger shark, based on the size of Bishop’s wound and the fact that they will “eat just about anything and they will investigate floating objects.”

Chopper 2 conducted a shoreline check within an hour of the incident, surveying several miles of ocean and along the coastline with negative findings.

DLNR said they are continuing the investigation to determine exactly what type of shark bit Bishop.

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