January 31, 2013
Te Tautua village, Penrhyn Atoll, South Pacific Ocean.
Penrhyn is sharky. Yesterday we had 18 sharks swimming under the boat. Mostly black tip reef sharks, but also some larger dusky colored Nurse sharks. Sort of intimidating to jump in for a swim, although the local kids are fearless and they swim out to the boat with the sharks following like a pack of pet dogs.
At the Kai Kai lunch yesterday, I was asking around inquiring about shark bites. In the group of 41 I found one young boy and one older man whom had both been bitten. The older man mostly spoke Maori, but I understood that there might be other shark attack survivors from the village as well.
A 3 year old boy was swimming with a group of kids as they do every afternoon. Fearless of the sharks, the kids play together like kids play with dogs in a yard. Down the wharf some 'Mommas' (mothers) were cleaning fish and the scraps had attracted a large number of frenzied sharks.
The young boy not knowing any better swam toward his Momma who was cleaning fish and swam into the frenzied sharks where his hand was engulfed past the wrist by a Lemon shark. The boy screamed and one of the local men, Rio, had to assist in removing the hand. The boy was injured and has some impressive scars, but regained full mobility of the hand. No fear still, that same day he wanted to go swimming again.
Incredibly, the local kids think the shark bite was punishment for playing in church!
The older man was bitten by a Black shark (a small all black colored shark considered dangerous by all) while spear fishing in the pass. His bite shows a deep crescent shape scar in his lower leg. The pass is said to have many sharks including Hammerheads, Tigers and even Great Whites toward the deep water drop-off.
That's it for now.
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