Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor
UPDATED, 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26
County officials conducted a flyover of West Hawaii beaches Thursday morning and reported no sign of a large shark.
The beaches are open, but the warning signs will remain posted through the holiday weekend.
Authorities believe it was a tiger shark about 10 feet in length that left teeth marks on a surf board Wednesday.
They also believe the bite marks on the paddleboard from Sunday’s attack were made by a tiger shark about the same size, but say it is impossible to tell whether it was the same shark.
A surfer had a lucky escape Wednesday when a shark bit the back of her surf board off Lyman’s Beach. It was the second shark encounter in four days, although no-one has been injured.
Theresa Fernandez was lying on her 8-foot board about 10-20 yards offshore when a shark bit down on the back end of it and tried to drag her under before letting go. She swam safely to shore and reported the incident shortly before 1:30 p.m.
Shortly before noon Sunday, a grandmother and her 3-year-old grandson were about 30 feet off Lyman’s Beach looking at turtles when something bumped into the board hard enough to knock them into the water.
Based on the size of the bite mark on the paddleboard, officials have estimated the shark to be about 16 feet long.
In a telephone interview with a Honolulu TV station, Alaina DeBina said she came face-to-face with the shark as she tried to boost the boy back on the board.
“It came up and took a taste of my board,” she said. “It basically chomped on my board. Then it turned around and it was flashing its tail at me. That’s when I was screaming for my husband, ‘Shark, shark.’ I was petrified at that point.”
DeBina says she kicked the shark as hard as she could, threw her grandson on the board and paddled in.
The two were not injured.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Department of Land and Natural Resources officials re-posted shark warning signs. Although the beach remains open, authorities strongly urge people to stay out of the water until they can determine the area is free of sharks.
County Fire Department crews performed a fly-over from Kailua-Kona to Keauhou Bay following Sunday’s attack and were again the air Wednesday afternoon.
The helicopter is expected to an aerial survey early Thursday morning.
While bite marks on the paddleboard and surf board appear to be similar in size, authorities cannot be certain whether it is the same shark. Both bite marks are believed to be from a tiger shark.
“Given the timing and the location, it’s likely to be the same shark, but you don’t know for sure,” said Chris Stelfox, lifeguard water safety captain. “We do get more sightings around this time of year.”
According to the International Shark Attack File, Hawaii has recorded 114 unprovoked shark attacks between 1882 and 2009. Eleven of these were fatal attacks – the last being in 2004.
Among the recorded Big Island attacks:
* May 10, 2003
Waimea man, 20, hospitalized after shark bites his calf and foot while swimming between Magic Sands Beach and Kahaluu.
* Nov. 23, 1999
Woman, 51, attacked by 6-8 foot shark off shoreline fronting the Kona Village Resort. The Rhode Island resident was bitten on the buttocks, leg and hands.
* Oct. 1, 1999
Surfer, 16, bitten on arm off Old Kona Airport Park.
* July 21, 1999
Man, 43, bitten on right buttock and thigh near Honolii Bridge, Hilo.
* April 15, 1987
Man last seen swimming from shore out to anchored sailboat in Kailua Bay. Swimming trunks found bitten in half on ocean floor.
* Aug. 24, 1981
Man disappeared while fishing from shore at Keaukaha. Leg found seven days later wedged in rocks 150 yards offshore.
* Aug. 17, 1971
Man bitten on arm by 8-foot shark while spearfishing off Honokaa.
* April 12, 1963
Man bitten on leg and foot while surfing at Awili, South Kona. Shark spotted measuring 12-15 feet.