Posted by . on June 28, 2003 at 14:25:04:
Man recounts shark attack
Advertiser Staff Writers
The dolphins must have known something bad was about to happen.
John Marrack and his wife, Stephanie, were swimming among a pod of 30 to 40 dolphins at around 8 a.m. yesterday about 50 yards off Makua Beach, celebrating John's birthday.
"It happened so fast," John Marrack said. "We were with quite a large pod of dolphins and then they just took off like rockets."
An instant later, what is believed to be a great white shark hit John Marrack.
"It just came out of nowhere," said Stephanie Marrack, 54.
"I didn't see it, but John said it was at least 5-foot- wide and silver. John was right in front of me, and all of a sudden I see this 4- or 5-foot geyser come out of the water it just went whoosh! And then John said, 'Steph, I've been bit.' "
John Marrack said he felt something grab his foot and tug it.
"I felt, like, sharp pricks, but it wasn't painful," he said. "Then I looked around underneath and ... I saw this big, silvery animal down there."
Although he knew he was hurt, his injuries weren't his only concern. He immediately thought about his wife's safety. "My job was to keep between her and the shark," he said.
The couple began to swim to shore when John Marrack realized the extent of his wounds.
"I saw a flap of skin floating around," he said. "There was a boat right there, so I asked them for help and they did a great job."
As luck would have it, Victor Lozano, owner of Dolphin Excursions Hawai'i, was in the area and hauled Marrack aboard his 33-foot rigid inflatable boat, Naia 1.
"There was blood all over that boat," said Lozano. "You could see it was a bite and a release. They were good-sized tooth marks an inch to in excess of an inch. I had to administer first aid and wrap him up to stop all the bleeding.
"The guy was actually a really a cool customer. ... He was coherent and able to talk to me while I was bandaging him up.
John Marrack, who was resting in his Manoa home last night, said he was doing fine. "There's a lot of pain in my foot but, other than that, I'm doing good," he said.
He celebrates his 61st birthday today.
"I'm so happy to be around to celebrate it," he said with a laugh.
John Naughton, a marine biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service and a member of the Hawai'i State Shark Task Force, said he and his team have been investigating incidents for the past two years in which a large shark has been stalking the pod of spinner dolphins.
"We're not 100 percent sure, it just seems like based on the description and particularly the behavior of the animal and the fact that it was stalking this dolphin pod, that this might be a white what we call a great white shark."
From Marrack's description of a "silvery," 5-foot-wide shark, Naughton said he would be inclined to think the attack was by a great white and not a tiger shark.
"He (Marrack) is just extremely lucky," said Naughton. "One of the guys who called me explained that one of the tooth marks was about an inch wide, which indicates an animal at least about 12 feet long."
Lozano, who had about 18 passengers aboard his boat, pulled eight swimmers from the water. After he had bandaged Marrack's foot and ankle, he took the Marracks to shore.
Stephanie Marrack drove her husband to the Wai'anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, where doctors spent the day treating his wounds.
John Marrack was scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon today,.
"He's doing OK," said Stephanie Marrack. "He's still got his foot and toes. And he's got a lot of stitches we don't know how many. And, he's got a fracture.
"Victor Lozano was great. He really took care of everything. And got a bunch of other people out of the water who were swimming. We were all fortunate that he was there."
It was the second shark attack in Hawai'i this year. In May, a 20-year-old man suffered leg injuries from a shark bite in waters north of Kahalu'u beach in Kona on the Big Island. The state averages three or four attacks annually.
Naughton asks that anyone who may have seen the shark call him at 973-2935, ext. 211.
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