Kauai surfer attacked by shark, tries to retrieve board from its mouth

Mitch Milan, who survived a painful shark attack Monday while surfing off the Hawaiian island of Kauai, vows to continue riding waves after he recovers.

But from now on, he’ll likely get out of the water long before dusk.

A tiger shark measuring perhaps 10 feet was believed responsible for the attack on Mitch Milan. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Terry Goss

Milan, 54, suffered injuries to his hand – he required 50 stitches – after what he believes to have been a tiger shark chomped his surfboard in the waning sunlight at Davidson’s surf break near Kekaha.

“All of a sudden, I’m in the water and I’m going,” ‘Oh my God. That’s a shark,’ ” Milan told The Garden Island. “I’m backpedalling and trying to get my board back from him because he had it in his mouth. It’s like, ‘What do you do?’ ”

Milan was surfing with Gary Watkins, who paddled over to try to help. But when Watkins arrived, Milan pulled his board away from the shark, by its leash, and caught a wave to shore.

Watkins said he saw the shark next to him while he waited 30 seconds for another wave. “Then a wave came to me and I just bombed out of there,” he said. “It was done.”

The attack occurred at 6:30 p.m., as dusk was turning to nightfall, a time when tiger sharks begin to emerge from deeper water to hunt along shallow reefs.

Said Milan: “You just don’t stay out until dark. That’s what they call ‘Shark 30.’ People say as the sun is going down, when it gets dark, that’s when the big fishes come out.”

He said that despite excessive bleeding in the moments after the attack, he made it to shore purely on adrenaline, and sought help at a local hospital.

The Garden Island reports that the last attack in Kauai waters was April 14, also at Davidson’s, and also involving a tiger shark.


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