Surfer bitten by large shark; fends off predator with blows to the snout

A surfer in Hawaii was bitten on the foot by a 10-foot shark Tuesday and might have been more seriously injured — or worse — had he not scared the predator away with two stiff blows to the snout, a shark’s most sensitive area. Joshua Holley, 28, was paddling off Oahu’s North Shore when he felt “a popping sensation” in his foot. When the shark swam to the front of his board, the surfer placed his left hand on the gills of the shark and punched with his right hand. “And then he just kind of submerged like a submarine and just disappeared,” Holley told ABC affiliate KITV (see video).

Holley received 42 stitches after the incident, which occurred near a spot called Leftovers. Lifeguards cautioned people to stay out of the water in the area and posted warning signs on nearby beaches. Lifeguards and beachgoers remained on high alert Wednesday morning.

Holley said he saw the markings of a tiger shark and estimated the predator to measure about 10 feet. Tiger sharks have been implicated in several attacks on surfers and swimmers in Hawaiian waters over the years.

They can measure to about 15 feet and weigh up to 1,400 pounds. Among their prey items are sea turtles, and it could be that surfers atop their boards resemble turtles in the eyes of the apex predators.

As for Holley, he plans on surfing again as soon as he’s able. “I’m not mad at the shark at all,” he said. “Because one thing we’ve to to remember as surfers, is that we’re going out in their domain.”

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