KALAPAKI — It was around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday when Kekoa Kinimaka spotted a shark on the left side of the bay at Kalapaki Beach.
“I saw the tip and tail and head of the shark pop up,” said the avid surfer. “It was maybe four to five feet.”
Another Kauai man reported he was bitten by a shark 25 to 30 yards off shore about 6 that morning at Kalapaki Beach.
According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the surfer — whose identity has not been released — suffered a single puncture wound to his arm by an estimated three- to four-foot shark.
The surfer drove himself to the hospital, was treated and later released, according to a DLNR report.
Officials and witnesses could not identify the species of the shark.
The DLNR posted warning signs along a two-mile stretch of Kalapaki Beach on the southeastern shore. The signs will stay posted until noon today.
At the time of the incident, Kinimaka said about five people were in the water.
“I saw a few people on the shore break, and they thought it was a dolphin, but it was no dolphin,” he said.
When DLNR officials arrived, Kinimaka said everyone exited the water.
Around 8 a.m., the shark left, he said.
This is the third incident of a shark bite on Kauai this year and the sixth in the state.
A Minnesota man reported in January that he had been surfing and was paddling to shore near the Hanalei Pier when he suffered puncture wounds and lacerations to his hands that were consistent with a shark bite.
In the same month, 15-year-old surfer Kaya Waldman told The Garden Island a tiger shark — longer than her 8-foot, 8-inch board — dragged her under water by her surf board leash near Hanalei, but said she was able to free herself and flee to safety.
Nohili Olivas, who has surfed Kalapaki for the past two years, said he’s never seen a shark at Kalapaki, but has heard numerous stories about them at the bay from his relatives.
“Every surfer knows the ocean is their house, and that’s the chance that all of us take when we go inside the water,” Olivas said. “We don’t know where they stay or when they come out and eat, but we know they’re out there.”
Olivas, who surfed Kalapaki Wednesday afternoon, was taken aback by the incident.
“If I knew that that happened this morning, I wouldn’t have gone out today,” he said.
Tytan Heresa, an avid surfer at Kalapaki Beach, said the incident doesn’t worry him.
“I’ve never seen a shark here — so far,” he said. “It could be possible, but I’ve heard people say they see sharks all the time.”
Kalapaki Beach is not protected by lifeguards.
Since 1995, DLNR has received 13 reports of shark-related incidents on the island.