And the winner of this week’s Who’s The Gutsiest Person On Maui? contest is Mr. David Peterson, 55, of Pukalani. By now everyone on Maui knows about Peterson, a stand-up paddler, and his Oct. 18 encounter with a 6-8 foot shark about 300 yards offshore of Kanaha Beach Park.
Did you guys read today’s Maui News story on this guy? Peterson’s out there on his board, paddling away, when the shark knocks him off his board. What happened then is straight out of a movie. Here’s Peterson, quoted in the story:
I didn’t see anything. I landed on the back of the shark. It had a hold on my board… It wouldn’t let go. I started beating it over the head and yelling at it.
Peterson eventually pushed the shark away and climbed back onto his board. He was, to put it mildly, extremely lucky. Not only was he uninjured, but his board wasn’t too badly damaged, allowing him to paddle back for shore. And then, just because he’s a great guy, Peterson apologized to other surfers for the beach closure that inevitably followed the attack.
It’s easy to forget that sharks–which are revered by the Kanaka as ‘aumakua or “family gods”–are all around us. Usually the first question asked by someone arriving on a Maui beach (usually about the time they’re applying sunscreen) is, “Are there sharks out there?” The answer, of course, is yes.
Sharks rarely attack people (we apparently don’t taste good to them), but rarely also doesn’t mean never. The last fatal shark attack on Maui (indeed, in Hawaii), took place at S-Turns in Kahana back in 2004.
A fisherman friend of mine once told me about an evening spear-fishing trip he took on the Westside, and the adventure of sorts he had while trying to drag his prize back to shore while a shark tried to take it away.
Sharks are ancient, fascinating creatures that deserve respect, not fear. Though if you want to see something really cool, watch the 2011 National Geographic documentary The Whale That Ate Jaws.
Photo: Jon Rawlinson/Wikimedia Commons