Maui Shark Attack Second In 4 Days; Great White Incidents Also Rise On East Coast As More People Enter High Risk Waters (VIDEO)
Aug 05, 2013 10:42 AM EDT
Two shark attacks in Hawaii that took place over a period of only two days prompted officials to shut down local beaches. The East coast has also seen a rise in shark-related incidents.
Evonne Cashman, 56, the victim of the most recent attack, was bitten on the upper torso while going for an early morning swim, KHON 2 News reported.
The woman, who was visiting from California, was about 30 feet away from shore when she felt a shark bump into her.
"I must have had my hands up in front of my face. I think my head was above water, if I remember correctly. I don't know because it happened so fast. I didn't see him coming. I didn't see him leave. He just came and hit me hard and bit me hard and I just took off to the shore as fast as I could," Cashman said.
There was low visibility in the murky water, even though it was only 10-feet deep.
"I got hit really hard and bit and then he let go as quickly as he bit me. And then I just started swimming to shore as fast I as I could, yelling 'help' the whole way," Cashman said.
The shark (which doctor's estimated to be about 25-feet-long) left Cashman with a 15-inch wound running from her spine up to her neck. She also sustained injuries to her hands and chin. The woman underwent emergency surgery.
Earlier this week Kiowa Gatewood, 19, was bitten by a shark while sitting on his surf board off another Hawaiian Beach, NBC News reported.
"I had this instinct to like, hit it with my left hand and then it let go and turned around and swam away," Gatewood said.
Gatewood had surgery on his knee, and has started rehab.
There have been nine shark attacks off the coast of Maui over the past year.
Shark attacks have been an issue further north as well, great whites have been making an appearance off the New England coast, the Daily News reported.
"In Massachusetts, we're seeing a change in habitat," Greg Skomal, a shark specialist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, told USA Today via the Daily News. "Great whites are moving closer to shore to get to seals, and so more people are seeing them."
There were 53 shark attacks in 2012, one of which took place in N.Y.
George Burgess, director of the attack file in Florida, said changes in the attack rate usually increases as more people enter shark-infested water.
"The concept of 'let's go out and kill them' is an archaic approach to a shark attack problem, and its opportunities for success are generally slim-to-none," Burgess said. "It's mostly a feel-good revenge - like an 'eye for an eye' approach - when in fact you're not likely to catch the shark that was involved in the situation. The shark that was involved in the situation also isn't necessarily likely to do it again."
During The Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which started Sunday Night, a special called 'Sharkpocalypse' will air. The program will explain why shark attacks are rising despite a decline is shark populations.