NORTH SHORE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Waialua man is recovering at home after being bitten by a shark while surfing on Oahu's North Shore.
According to officials, the incident happened at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Joshua Holley, 28, has 42 stitches and will soon have to have surgery to reattach two severed tendons in his left foot. Experts believe the predator was a 10-foot tiger shark.
"I felt this unreal push on the left side of my body and it was like this popping sensation on my foot, and I look down to my left and I see this huge dorsal fin," recalled Holley.
Holley had been in the murky water for about an hour and a half. He was paddling about 40 yards offshore in the channel between Alligator Rock and Leftovers. He said the shark bit his left foot and then started swimming to the front of the board.
"Survival mode kicked in and I punched it really hard once and then twice. I didn't want to panic or go into shock or anything like that," said Holley.
"You gotta go for something vulnerable like the eyes or the gills or the snout and that usually does the trick," said state shark specialist Randy Honebrink.
Holley paddled in and two strangers helped him to shore. Medics took him to Wahiawa General Hospital. Lifeguards posted warning signs at Alii Beach Park, Chun's Reef Support Park, Ehukai Beach Park, Haleiwa Beach Park, Ke'Waena Beach Park, Laniakea Beach Support Park, Sunset Beach Park, and Waimea Bay Beach Park. All ocean goers are advised to stay out of the water in the general area. The signs will be up until about 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Lifeguards will decide whether it's safe for people to go back in the water.
"Other surfers had seen a shark as well, and there have been some reports of sharks in the 10-foot range over the last week or so," said Lt. John Hoogsteden of the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.
Holley was supposed to have been surfing with his father, but ended up going by himself.
"I just was so shocked. We talk about this so many times cause we're always in the water but you never think it's going to happen to you," said Harold Holley, the victim's father.
Honebrink spoke to Joshua Holley as part of an investigation into the attack.
"That was kind of unusual. In all the shark incidents that I've looked into, I've never heard of a shark coming up, biting somebody, staying at the surface and swimming back and continuing to check him out," Honebrink said.
Holley's wounds will keep him out of the water for awhile, but he is already eager to get back on his board.
"I'm not afraid to go back in the water. I'm not mad at the shark at all because one thing we gotta remember when we're surfers, we're going out in their domain," said Holley.
Holley wants to thank the two strangers who helped him to shore. He only got their first names: Thomas and Jason.