Shark attack victim: “I thought I was going to die"

By Ilia L Likou ,

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LUCKY TO BE ALIVE: Misipati Misipati is still struggling to move at the hospital two months after he was attacked by a shark at Nofoali'i.

LUCKY TO BE ALIVE: Misipati Misipati is still struggling to move at the hospital two months after he was attacked by a shark at Nofoali'i.

A 43-year-old man from Nofoali’i who was attacked by a shark has spoken for the first time since he was hospitalised in September with life threatening injuries.

Misipati Misipati continues to be cared for at the hospital two months after a near fatal experience in the lagoon of his village where he was fishing early morning.

During a meeting with the Samoa Observer yesterday, he could barely speak. He still has difficulty moving about. 

But he is a grateful man that he is alive.

“I’ve always loved fishing since I was young,” he said.

“On that Saturday morning at about one or two o’clock, I went out to the sea.”

He did not take a boat with him. The only thing he had was his spear and a gallon to put the fish inside. Things started well, he caught fish and thought it was just another day in the ocean.

That was until he heard something splashing behind him.

“I was facing the shore then I heard something,” he recalled.

“It was a splash and it happened so quickly. When I tried to turn round, that’s when it lunged at me and bit my back.”

Misipati couldn’t immediately work out what it was but he knew it was trouble. After it bit his back, it came back immediately for his legs.

 “I was struggling to move forward,” he said. “But the shark grabbed me and its jaws clamped down (to his legs) and jerked me around....

“When I tried to chase it away using my hands to splash the water, the shark circled me and it came back again this time it got my fists.

“I saw deep wounds to my hands and there was a pool of blood.

“I could see my flesh hanging out from my hands and the pain to my legs was almost unbearable.”

Misipati said it was at that time he thought he would die. 

“I was badly injured, still in the sea...I thought that was the end to my life.”

But he used every bit of his energy to push himself further towards the shore.

“I turned and walked as fast as I could. I cried out to God to help me but the shark still followed and gnawed at the other side of my waist.”

What saved him was when he reached a shallow part of the water.

 “I think the shark realised that the sea was too shallow and it couldn’t continue further so it gave up and went away.”

Misipati struggled and fought his way to the beach.

“My body was numb,” he said. “I had lost a lot of blood.  I thank God that I still managed to yell at the top of my voice and not long while on the beach, an angel appeared.

“I heard a man’s voice calling my name, a friend, I think it was three o’clock but I’m not quite sure what time he found me.

“I collapsed because I lost a lot of blood, and I thank God although I am still in hospital, I’m alive.”

According to him, the shark was “quite massive.”

“From where I was standing and from the time I was trying to fight it back - it was a huge shark.”

It has been two months since the incident but he still has nightmares about it.

 “The attack and the fear are still in my mind – I am lucky to be alive.”

 “So up until now, I hardly move because the wounds still affect my body.”

He is most grateful to the staff of N.H.S and his family for the care and support he has received.

Shark sightings and attacks in Samoa’s waters are not new.

Assistant Chief Officer Legal for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Maoi’autele Amitonu Brigitta Fa’afiti-Lo Tam said members of the public need to be alert.

 “There have been past incidents of shark attacks, and the most recent attack as reported by your paper,” Maoi'autele said.

“The presence of sharks is a good indication of a healthy reef and good population of fish.” 

Maoi’autele said sharks are predatory in nature and are territorial animals. 

 “Sharks are attracted to fish. There are shark species known as grey reef sharks, white-tip reef sharks, and black tip reef sharks which are normally found in the lagoon areas (aloalo) and some observed close to shore.

 “The displays of aggression towards humans vary from one species to another and sharks can mistake people swimming or wading on reefs for prey in the presence of food.”

Maoi'autele also warned members of the public to be alert.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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