A Hawaiian surfer is just happy to be alive after an eight-foot tiger shark latched onto his leg on Sunday.
Mike Morita, 58, was catching waves in the Kewalo Basin off the coast of Honolulu after attending church services on Easter morning, when he felt the animal clamp onto his leg.
“It wasn’t really like a chomp. It was just pressure,” he told local news outlet KHON 2. “I can feel the strength of it and right away I knew it was a shark.”
Morita said that he immediately began swearing and pummeling the shark, which caught the attention of his surfer friends who were nearby, before he was pulled underwater.
With the tiger shark at a clear advantage, it shook him back and forth, before Morita was able to wrap his arms and legs around the predator in a bear hug.
“I wrapped my arm around it and my body around it. And at that point I was trying to go for the eyes but my hand ended up by the gills. So as soon as I touched by the gills it let go,” he recalled.
Despite the danger of another attack, other surfers rushed to his aid and got him onto a surfboard.
“The water was red – with my blood. They said when they reached me, the shark was still on me, so they were scared for their lives too but when it finally let go, they were there for me,” Morita detailed. “They were in shock also.”
They tourniqueted his right leg, which he said was only bone from knee to ankle, and paddled him to shore.
Paramedics said that tying of the bleeding limb was what saved his life. Doctors at the local hospital he was treated at were forced to amputate Morita’s right foot, but say he’ll be able to surf again one day with the help of a prosthetic.
“The doctors are telling me that it’s up to me whether what I’m going to do. Yes I’d like to surf again but if I never surf again I’m still happy, I’ll be alright,” he remarked.
Morita’s just “grateful to be alive” and thankful for the friends and medical staff that kept him from passing.
“It’s a close community we got out there and we always look out for each other. And sure enough, when I needed it, they came together and they came to me and they saved my life,” he commented.
“I’m so thankful to be alive,” Morita concluded. “That’s my message, thank you and I appreciate the love.”
Moriata wasn’t the only one to have a terrifyingly close encounter with a shark this week.
Carmen Canovas Cervello, 30, was snorkeling in the Maldives this week, when eight-foot-long nurse shark chomped onto her shoulder and upper back.
Unlike the tiger shark, the nippy nurse shark took a bite and fled. Cervello and her diving partner jumped out of the water to see that the animal had left bite marks six inches in diameter.
Astonishingly, she determined that the wound didn’t require medical attention and after tending to it herself, jumped back in the bay.
“After the shark bite, we thought nothing major about it as it was only a minor injury so we cleaned the wound and continued snorkeling at the same spot again,” Cervello said.