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Shark bites diver off Maui

By Wendy Osher

Special to the Star-Advertiser

LAST UPDATED: 6:47 p.m. HST, Nov 4, 2012

WAIEHU, MAUI >> A 30-year-old Kahului man was recovering this evening after suffering severe lacerations above his right ankle in a shark attack at the area known as Sand Piles in central Maui.

Friends say Mark Riglos, a diver from Kahului, had just paddled out with his dive partner, Kaulana Kaaa, when the incident occurred at around 8:09 a.m..

“They just got out to the drop-off, which is like a 20-30 minute paddle out… and they didn’t event shoot any fish yet,” said Jarrett Nanod, who was also a participant in the Maui Roi Round-up tournament that took place across the island today.

The shark circled back after biting the man's right ankle, but he kept it away with his spear gun, firefighters said. The shark also approached the man’s partner, but then swam away.

Authorities say Riglos described what was estimated to be about a 15-foot tiger shark.

A shark also harassed surfers Sunday morning near Davidson’s surf break on the west side of Kauai, leaving deep teeth marks into one man’s board. 

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources closed both beaches for the remainder of the day and will reassess the situation Monday, said spokeswoman Deborah Ward.

Riglos was bleeding profusely, said Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.

Nanod said, “Kaulana, who is an X-ray technician at Kaiser, he put a tourniquet on and told Mark to calm down and they ended up ditching their weight belts, their gear, and their spear guns. He swam Mark all the way in and calmed him down, which was pretty cool.”

Firefighters responded to the scene at about 8:21 a.m.

Tournament officials say they plan to donate funds from merchandise sales to the victim’s family to help pay for medical bills. Officials said Riglos is a repeat participant in the annual event, aimed at removing invasive fish, including roi, or peacock grouper, from Maui’s reefs.

Near Kekaha, Kauai, a group of eight to 10 surfers were sitting on their boards 75 to 150 yards offshore around 8 a.m. when an 8- to 10-foot shark came up from underneath one of the men, bit the tail of his board and released it, Ward said. No injuries were reported.

Jason Paliracio said he was paddling out to join his friends when he saw all of them hurrying back in after the incident, and he called 911 once everyone made it onshore.

“My daughter said she saw the guy roll off of his board … and he later told us that he got off his board when he noticed the back of his board being bit by a shark,” Paliracio said. “He put his arms out and he said the shark was probably that big around.”

Ward said another witness reported seeing stripes on the shark, so authorities think it might have been a tiger shark. The type of shark involved in the Maui attack is unknown.

Star-Advertiser reporter Sarah Zoellick contributed to this report.

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