LYMAN BEACH, Kailua-Kona (HawaiiNewsNow) - A photo shows Theresa Fernandez with a big smile on her face, and a big bite in her board.
It's a smile of relief and thankfulness after her board was attacked by a shark Wednesday as she surfed at Lyman's Beach off Kailua-Kona.
Fernandez spent much of the day at the beach and was nearing the end of her surf session. She said she was paddling out for one of her last waves of the day.
"And there's a big thud on the bottom of my board, and I'm thinking, 'okay, we have encounters with turtles all the time," Fernandez said. "And next thing I know, the thud is followed by a big yank from the back of my board, backwards and down."
Fernandez then knew it definitely wasn't a turtle, as the shark tried to pull the board underwater.
"Half my board and my body went under the water, and I just started to paddle as strong as I could to try and get away," Fernandez said.
The shark then let go, and Fernandez paddled back to shore unhurt and helped to alert others to get out of the water.
Wednesday's attack came three days after Alayna DeBina was attacked by a shark at the same beach.
"I don't think she got to have eye to eye contact with the shark like I did," said DeBina Wednesday, "but from what I hear, she was surfing and luckily she had her legs up in the air on the board at that point, and the shark apparently bit her board from the back and shook it up real good and then let it go, probably because the skeg poked it in its mouth."
DeBina also escaped without injury.
A shark specialist from the Department of Land and Natural Resources said it appeared that a tiger shark was involved in both attacks, but didn't think it was the same shark. Tests are being done to determine the size of the sharks.
Randy Honebrink of the DLNR said these are also the first recorded shark incidents at Lyman Beach.
The two women have something in common in surviving their shark encounters, but DeBina noted one difference.
"She (Fernandez) came out and had a huge smile on her face. My smile was not that big," said DeBina, laughing.
Fernandez, who has spent a lot of time in the ocean surfing and canoeing, said the smile showed she was indeed thankful. She also was philosophical about the experience.
"We're actually visitors in an ocean, and the sharks have been there before we have, so we only have guest privileges," she said.
Shark warning signs were posted again at Lyman Beach and nearby Laaloa Beach. Lifeguards will assess conditions Thursday before they decided whether to reopen them to swimmers and surfers.
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