Juliun Perkins, a 2018 BYUH graduate of business management from Kailua, is recovering after being bitten by a shark while surfing at Pounders beach. This was the third shark attack in Hawaii this year. He along with others stress the importance of following safety guidelines while in the ocean, and why sharks attack.
Perkins was unexpectedly bitten on the arm by a shark on Saturday, Sept 8. When asked for his thoughts about what occurred, Perkins said, “It was a surreal experience and it’s hard to believe it happened. I’m just happy to be alive and I’m going through the recovery process.”
He further commented on his current condition as he said, “[I’m] doing a lot better since my initial injury. The support and prayers of my family and friends have been a huge blessing.”
Perkins, who had been out surfing at Pounders with a group of other surfers, described the day of the attack as one with overcast skies and very nice waves. On this, he commented, “I was happy to be in the water.”
Before the attack, Perkins said he had been half a mile out from the shore and had spent two hours in the water surfing that day.
“I was out in lineup watching surfers catch waves to my left. All of a sudden, the shark snuck up on me and got hold of my right arm. I remember seeing the shark on my arm, but luckily he let go. I then started yelling for help and attempted to paddle. The waves were big that day which didn’t help the situation at all. Luckily, I was with an amazing group of surfers who safely guided me to shore. They saved my life and risked their own in the process, truly a miracle.”
When asked what had kept him so calm throughout the ordeal, he said, “Knowing that I was in good hands and with an experienced group of individuals. I just felt safe and that everything was going to be alright.
Asked if he’d encourage other surfers to stick together for safety, he said, “Yes definitely, not just for shark incidents. It’s just better to be out with another person.”
Reactions and safety tips
A friend of Perkins, Jashon Waters, a sophomore from New Zealand studying psychology, stated his regret that Perkins was injured. “Juliun is honestly so sweet, he’s so kind. It was really unlucky that he got bit.”
Josh Gatewood, a freshman from Hawaii majoring in marketing, offered the same advice as Perkins when asked what safety tips surfers should go by. “Don’t go surfing alone.”
When asked about other precautions and general knowledge to have while surfing or swimming in the ocean, Gatewood had this to say, “If you ever encounter a shark… you have to punch it in the nose.” He further stressed it is crucial for one to stay calm and not to panic.
According to Dr. Spencer Ingley, assistant professor of biology, shark attacks are incredibly rare, and deaths caused by shark attacks are even more rare.
There have only been three shark attacks around Hawaii this year according to dlnr.hawaii.gov under shark incidents. In 2017, there were six shark encounters, only four where the shark physically bit the victim.
On why sharks attack, Ingley stated, “In most of the cases when you have a shark attack, it’s a case of mistaken identity. The shark thinks you are something it wants to eat, it comes in, it bites you, realizes you’re not what it wants to eat, and it takes off, which is exactly what happened here.
“It came in, it took a bite- and that's how a lot of shark attacks are. They come and they bite the leg, they figure out it's not what they're looking for, and they take off.”
Speaking on methods to reduce the chances of being attacked by a shark, Ingley said, “One [recommendation] is that you don’t wear shiny objects, like jewelry and so forth, when you're in the water because those reflect light in a way that's similar to the way that a lot of fish reflect light. Those are fish that the sharks like to eat.
“Don't wear shiny objects, and don't go out when sharks are most active... typically at night, evenings, or early mornings are times when sharks are more active.”
Official information and safety guidelines from the hawaii.gov website state these ten specific things, some already mentioned above, on how to decrease the chances of a shark attack.
“Swim, surf, or dive with other people, and don’t move too far away from assistance.
Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed. But be aware that tiger sharks are known to bite people at all times of the day.
Do not enter the water if you have open wounds or are bleeding in any way. Sharks can detect blood and body fluids in extremely small concentrations.
Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances, and areas near stream mouths (especially after heavy rains), channels, or steep drop-offs. These types of waters are known to be frequented by sharks.
Do not wear high-contrast clothing or shiny jewelry. Sharks see contrast very well.
Refrain from excessive splashing; keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are known to be attracted to such activity.
Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present, and leave the water quickly and calmly if one is sighted. Do not provoke or harass a shark, even a small one.
If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. Be alert to the presence of dolphins, as they are prey for some large sharks.
Remove speared fish from the water or tow them a safe distance behind you. Do not swim near people fishing or spearfishing. Stay away from dead animals in the water.
Swim or surf at beaches patrolled by lifeguards, and follow their advice.”