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forwarded by AAF Correspondent: Jim Morris

Honolulu Star-Bulletin Online

Officials: shark attacks are rare
With two recent incidents in isle waters,
sharks are on the minds of tourists and residents

Wednesday, March 10, 1999

By Jaymes K. Song, Star-Bulletin

With two shark bites reported in Hawaii in the last week, the state is assuring swimmers that shark attacks are rare and and the ocean is still a safe place. However, sharks are on the minds of many people, especially tourists. "People ask about sharks all the time," said lifeguard Ryan Moniz. "There's a lot of people that saw 'Jaws.' " Moniz tell tourists that sharks do live here, but the chance of being attacked is "super slim." He has not seen a shark in his four years as a lifeguard. On Monday, an 18-year-old Arizona man reported being bit while body-boarding on Kealia, Kauai. He was treated and released from a hospital for a gash on his right calf. Friday, a 29-year-old woman was bit on the leg while swimming off of Kaanapali, Maui. "The chances of being bitten, or even approached by a shark in Hawaii's waters are extremely remote," said Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman Tim Johns. "Most people live their whole lives here without ever encountering a shark." But Randy Cho, a visitor from Washington state, won't take anybody's word on how safe the waters are. The 23-year-old Nordstrom customer service representative said he always swims within 30 feet from the beach because a sharks might mistake him for "a turtle." "Trust me, if I see a fin, I'm paddling quick," Cho said. Kaneohe resident Thomas Christian, 63, has seen more than his share of sharks. However, he still enjoys swimming three times a week and respects the shark's environment. "More or less, that's his house," he said. "If you're worried about being bitten, you shouldn't be in the water." Christian came within 15 feet of a shark while diving, but was not attacked. He just watched the shark and swam slowly back to the beach. "When I see a shark, I'm out," he said. "I say, 'That's my day.' "

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