11-year-old girl bitten by possible reef shark at popular beach, Hawaii rescuers say

An 11-year-old girl suffered a possible shark bite to her foot at a Hawaii beach popular with surfers, emergency workers told news outlets.

A 911 caller reported the injury at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, from a beach known as “Rainbows” near Kaaawa on Oahu, officials told Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Ocean Safety, Emergency Medical Services and the Honolulu Fire Department responded to the incident, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The girl’s parents declined to have her taken to a hospital, officials told KHON.

An onlooker reported seeing an “aggressive” 3- to 4-foot reef shark in the area, according to the station.

Ocean Safety officials posted warning signs, Hawaii News Now reported.

What to know about shark attacks

Shark attacks are “extremely rare,” according to John Carlson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“You have a better chance of getting in a car accident and being injured on your way to the beach than you do actually when you get to go swimming,” he said in a video posted to NOAA’s website.

In 2023, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File investigated 120 shark-human interactions worldwide. Of those interactions, 69 were unprovoked shark bites, and there were 14 “shark-related fatalities.”

If you see a shark in the water, however, don’t panic, Richard Peirce, former chair of the Shark Trust and Shark Conservation Society, told CNN.

“Don’t start splashing around – you’re just going to excite, incite and encourage the shark’s interest,” he told the news outlet.

Instead, maintain eye contact with the shark and read its body language. If the shark appears to be in “attack mode,” you should make yourself as large as possible, CNN reported. If it seems to just be swimming by, try to stay small.

If the shark attacks, experts told CNN you shouldn’t play dead.

“You must try and keep the animal in sight and very slowly and gently try and swim backwards and get into shallow water,” Peirce told CNN. “Again, you’ve got to be careful – large sharks can attack in very shallow depths.”

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