Kealia closed after shark sighting

Chris Ritter was in the water with his family when Kauai County lifeguards posted a warning sign in the sand on the left side of Kealia Beach Wednesday afternoon.

Everyone scrambled out of the water.

“A shark was sighted about six-feet deep out before the breaks,” Ritter said.

Darrell Soza, told The Garden Island, he and his son saw the shark around 2 p.m.

About 45 minutes after lifeguards posted signs and warned beach goers, Ritter said he and everyone else went back into the water.

“I wasn’t too concerned. We weren’t too far out anyway,” Ritter said. “I’m surprised people don’t seem to be bothered by (shark sighting).”

Soza said the possible tiger shark was about 10- to 12-feet and was roughly 30 feet from shore near a group of surfers. 

“His fin was out of the water. It had to be out at least 14, 15 inches and he swam straight to the surfer – at least 15 feet and it went down six feet of water,” Soza said. 

“No Swimming” and “Shark Sighted” signs were posted along the beach and the public is advised to stay out of the water until further notice, officials said.

Kamren Hernandez-Martinez of Kapaa, whose main summer activity is surfing Kealia Beach four times a week, said he had no idea about a shark sighting.

“That scares me a little bit that they put the sign up,” said Hernandez-Martinez.

Like other beach goers, the Kapaa native was back in the water after being informed of the shark.

Hernandez-Martinez said one afternoon he saw what appeared to be a 6-foot reef shark in Kealia waters.

John Reich pulled up to the beach when lifeguards made the announcement.

“I just got in the water anyway,” Reich said. “I’ve done scuba diving at the beach, and I see them around reefs.”

Reich said he understands the best defense against sharks is “not to mess with them.”

“You let them do their thing, and they’ll generally leave you alone,” he said.

Lifeguards will continue to monitor the area, officials said.

Kealia Beach will remain closed until at least this morning when lifeguards will reassess if the beach can be reopened, according to a release.

This year, there have been three shark-attack incidents around Kauai.

On June 16, a Kauai man reported he was bitten by a shark at Kalapaki beach.

In January, a Minnesota man suffered puncture wounds and lacerations to his hands in Hanalei that were consistent with a shark bite.

In the same month, a 15-year-old surfer reported a shark dragged her under water by her surfboard leash near Hanalei but she was able to free herself and safely fled to shore.

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