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Maui woman says shark attack won’t keep her out of the ocean

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / OCT. 19, 2009

    A sign warning of a shark sighting is posted at the beach at Kalama State Park on Maui after an incident on Maui on Oct. 19, 2009. (Photo by Wendy Osher)

WAILUKU >> A Maui woman says she was doing exercises about 30 yards off shore when she was bitten on the leg by a shark.

“I’m doing my exercises, (then) all of a sudden, I literally am propelled through the water,” Barbara Zawacki told The Maui News on Tuesday. “I went backward in the water, with the force of the shark, when he bit me.”

Zawacki, 58, spoke from her hospital bed at Maui Memorial Medical Center. She declined to have her photo taken and covered her legs with a hospital blanket, but said the attack left open flaps of skin and teeth marks on her right leg.

“I look and I see this massive gray thing,” said Zawacki, describing the Monday attack. “For a split second, I thought it was a whale because it was so big.”

Officials haven’t determined whether it was a tiger shark or another species that attacked Zawacki near Kamaole Beach Park. Zawacki said she was able to swim to shore and warn people to get out of the water.

She was taken to the hospital, where she was given stitches on her leg. Zawacki said she was going home Tuesday.

She described the attack as a freak incident, saying the water was not murky and she was not far from other swimmers. She said the attack won’t stop her from returning to the water because fear can’t rule a person’s life.

All three Kamaole Beach Parks and Kalama and Cove parks reopened at noon Tuesday after no additional shark sightings the water or from the air, according to Edward Taomoto, the fire services chief.

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  • If the families that count sharks as their amakua can’t get their family to behave, it’s time to start culling throughout the state !! There’s no difference in the food chain between an 8′ Tiger shark and a 15′ Tiger shark !!

  • This woman was very lucky and hopefully she recovers in full. Based on recent study, it is known that the waters off Maui is a favorite haunt for tiger sharks during this time of
    year. As the apex predator of our waters, the tiger shark is a hunter of opportunity. The idea that tiger shark attacks on humans are because the shark mistakes a human for
    one of his favorite preys, the monk seal or turtle is a bunch of bull. Humans are also a prey item and we are indeed on the menu.
    Although it has still not been determined that it was a tiger shark, the preliminary indications strongly indicate that it was indeed a large tiger shark.

      • They due eat humans but only after they bleed out after the initial attack. If the victim is close to shore and or is able to get help, they can survive as
        has been the situation in many of the attacks,

        • Im glad this woman has decided to continue her routine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going in the ocean! This is our lifestyle and if we exercise caution rather than live in fear we will all be better for it!

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