(CNN) — What started out as a family day of snorkeling, turned into an unforgettable and dangerous moment for a man recovering from a shark attack in Hawaii.
“This black cloud appeared and I wasn’t sure what it was … and the shape moved toward me quickly and it materialized into a 10- to 12-foot tiger shark,” Dr. Ken Grasing told reporters Friday at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
Flanked by his wife and two sons, the 58-year-old physician from Overland Park, Kansas, sat in a wheelchair. Grasing said he had just wrapped up a day of snorkeling in the waters off Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii when the attack occurred.
It took place in about five feet of water, when he was surrounded by people.
“It all happened very rapidly; the shark bit my left hand,” Grasing said. “And then as it moved past me, I struck it with my good hand on the side of the head. The shark then swam around me, stayed in the area, and I stood there just yelling. It was quite a dramatic moment. My two boys were with me in the water and I was very concerned that the shark would attack them.”
Grasing was hospitalized for severe cuts to his left forearm and an injury to his left leg, probably from a shark fin scrape. He’s expected to make a full recovery. But he wonders what could have happened.
“This is a magnificent animal swimming with great speed and power. I was really at its mercy, and if it had mind to do anything more, that would have been the end of me,” he said.
Hawaii is home to approximately 40 species of sharks. The tiger shark, which can reach up to 16 feet in length, has been called “the garbage can of the sea” because of its wide variety of prey, according to the state’s shark website.
A NOAA fact sheet says the tiger is one of the top sharks involved in unprovoked fatal attacks throughout the world and is the leading attack species in Hawaii.
The state park was closed Wednesday, March 18th, and shark warnings were posted along parts of the coast outside the park. The same shark was reportedly spotted swimming in the area about an hour after the attack.
Grasing, who doesn’t know if he’ll ever go snorkeling again, says his reaction to hit the shark in the head was very difficult “because there’s a lot of teeth there that are sharp and its moving fast.”
But he says what may have saved him is that “fortunately it didn’t like what it tasted.”