Shark attack survivor recounts frightening ordeal

Published: Nov. 5, 2012 at 9:09 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 5, 2012 at 9:25 PM HST
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WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - From his hospital bed at Maui Memorial Medical Center, diver Marc Riglos explained how bad the injury to his right leg is -- the scars of a scare from a 15-foot tiger shark.

"It's real bad. My foot was hanging. Only the blood vessel and skin was holding up my foot. It was dangling in the water," he said.

This is the third tiger shark attack on a Maui beachgoer in the last three weeks. Nine days ago, Mariko Haugen's hand and thigh were bitten. Before that, a shark sank its teeth in Dave Peterson's paddle board.

Retired marine biologist John Naughton said tiger sharks feast on green sea turtles. That species has become more plentiful in Hawaiian waters. Last month, Maui lifeguards closed a beach after a shark attacked a turtle.

"There's no question the green sea turtle population is increasing. But it's not just on Maui. We're seeing them all over," Naughton said.

He said there's no data to prove a connection to the recent rash of tiger shark attacks on people. But he warns to stay out of murky water, especially if sea turtles are nearby.

Riglos, 30, said he didn't see any sea turtles before the shark attacked him.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. "It pulled me down. I had to whack it in the face a couple of times. Then it let go."

Naughton said Riglos did the right thing. He said when a tiger shark attacks, try to fight back. If you can, strike its snout.

"If you get your hands in the eye socket or into the gills and just pull, the shark immediately seems to take off," he said.

Riglos is an electrician.  He has been diving since he was boy.

"I don't know how my foot's going to be. I don't know if I can walk on it. I'm pretty much done," he said.

He is scheduled for more surgery later this week.

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