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Cook Islands Teen Attacked by Tiger Shark While Spearfishing, Lucky to be Alive

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PENRHYN ISLAND, Cook Islands -- A northern Cook Islands boy is lucky to be alive after being bitten on the leg by a Tiger shark.

The Cook Islands Times says 16-year-old Turua William Maretapu was swimming over the reef into the lagoon at Penrhyn after spearfishing.

He spotted the shark and fired at it.

The shot missed and the shark bit his leg.

The newspaper says luckily others were on the reef nearby and helped him.

They included his uncle, who had been trained in first aid by the Red Cross.

The Cook Islands Times said Turua was rushed to hospital, where the doctor said the first aid probably stopped him bleeding to death.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

24 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

Wish the shark would of finished that kid off, that is whay he gets for shooting it!
   comment# 1   - Brendan Maas · Philadelphia PA · Mar 6, 2007 @ 11:06am

Brendan, did you think it might have been charging at him, mouth agape, when he fired the shot that, understandably, missed? I wholeheartedly agree that if he shot it just to see what would happen, he deserved to get bit (although death seems a bit extreme). But we don't know the entire story.
   comment# 2   - Steve B · Los Angeles, CA · Mar 6, 2007 @ 3:15pm

This just in...there are sharks in the ocean, stop shooting at them and they might leave you alone.
   comment# 3   - Chris · Minneaplois, USA · Mar 8, 2007 @ 8:16am

Ok Brendan-let's see one charge at you. What are you going to do? Hopefully you will have the sense to fight for your life! Of course-there are no sharks in PA anyway...LOL
   comment# 4   - Julie · Boston, MA · Mar 8, 2007 @ 9:50am

sharks dont kill people, people kill sharks so i totally agree with u three
   comment# 5   - Rockell A · Hollywood, FL · Mar 8, 2007 @ 5:45pm

Oooh, how righteous we are. If he deserves to die or get bitten by a shark for spearfishing, then we all deserve to die or choke the next time we eat fish.
   comment# 6   - Scott · Van Nuys, California · Mar 8, 2007 @ 9:30pm

Rockell - what the heck are you talking about???? Sharks do kill people - alas that's not the point - if you're going to be in the ocean, that's the chance you take. It's their home, not ours.
   comment# 7   - Susie · Woodland · Mar 9, 2007 @ 2:37pm

First of all, I am a huge fan of sharks and study much about them... I have been fascinated with them my entire life and feel wholeheartedly that they are amazing creatures ....however when we are in the ocean, we are risking coming in contact with one of them. Lets put this into perspective here, if any one of you who say that a 16 year old child should of been killed, then you must have major mental issues. I don't see anyone walking up to a lion in Africa and not expecting it to attack. Why would it be different with a shark? A lion is an animal and just like a shark it has instincts..not necessarily to kill but kill rather than be killed... wow kinda sounds like something we've been taught our whole lives huh? So before passing judgement on a 16 year old child.. take a look on how you would react as a 16 year old or as the shark itself...
   comment# 8   - Alicia Usery · AR · Mar 9, 2007 @ 5:46pm

Do any of you idiots know the Cook Islands at all? No, I guess not. The island of Rarotonga is surrounded by a 4 foot deep lagoon with only one gateway to the Ocean. If a shark gets in, there is no escape for a swimmer who is expecting a safe place to swim. Where do they go then? What do they do? Ask their therapist. Tards.
   comment# 9   - Lee Hedley · Winchester, UK · Mar 10, 2007 @ 6:09pm

All you apologists don't know sharks, have never been face to face with them. . . . wish you did and your views might be more balanced.
   comment# 10   - Jack Frost · Miami, USA · Mar 12, 2007 @ 6:58pm

All of you bring up valid points about this subject ... but if I was in the same unfortunate position and it is between me and the fish...I would use any thing I could to make sure it was me...
   comment# 11   - Kal · Saint Michael MN. USA · Mar 15, 2007 @ 3:45pm

It says no where in the article that the shark was approaching/charging him and that he shot at it in self defense. If he did, then my views would be different. I obviously don't wish death upon a thrill seeking less than intelligent person 16 year old, but I am so angered at peoples ignorance toward these animals. It has been proving time and time again that humans are not part of a sharks diet, if they were, humans would die everyday, instead of the on average 8 a year. Compare that with the 100 million sharks that humans kill every year. I have been face to face with a 12 foot tiger shark while surfing at Stradbroke island in Australia, and even if I had a speargun it would probably be the last thing I would want to use. Because your just go to make the shark aggressive, you certainly aren't going to kill it. So Jack Frost, go down to Australia and swim with some real sharks, leave the rinky dinks of Miami, until then shut your mouth! Lee Hedley, maybe swimmers should avoid that place! TAR
   comment# 12   - Brendan Maas · Philadelphia, PA · Mar 20, 2007 @ 10:40am

i think everyone should shut up let it blow over and mind their own business. i mean the kid has already been bitten dont you think that that is enough rather than everybody giving him s*** about it
   comment# 13   - enlightend one · us · May 6, 2007 @ 8:32am

whoever says that the kid deserved it is a less than intelligent person. do you really think he went out spearfishing thinking 'i wonder what it would be like to shoot a tiger shark?'....no! obviously he was pretty scared and did what he had to do to protect himself especially seeing as it was a tiger shark and not a puny little nurse shark. furthermore, even if he hadn't missed, the chances of him actually killing a tiger shark with a spear are minimal. it would have to be a brain shot.
   comment# 14   - trev · bahamas · Jul 11, 2007 @ 5:40pm

I believe u all have valid points. I am a very keen spearfisherman and have had alot to do with sharks allover australia. I think this boy would've been fairly inexperienced with sharks and was probably s###t scared as most kids of that age would be. I myself would not have shot at the shark but i can understand why a frightened 16year old boy would have thought it was a good idea. i'm sure all he wanted to do was scare the shark away from himself. Saying this boy shouldve died for shooting at this shark is a harsh call especialy as this article doesn't disclose the full story.
   comment# 15   - Drew · Australia · Jul 12, 2007 @ 5:46pm

B.m here is another example of you and others putting fish life over a humans life. That is my definition of a fanatical whacko. This boy did not deserve to be bitten let alone killed no matter what he did or did not do period. And B.M everyone knows the new jersey shore is the only coast you've ever been close to. Get a real life and quit making up stories.
   comment# 16   - Robert Rolin · Onalaska ,Texas · Oct 14, 2007 @ 10:30pm

that kid was only doing what he could to survive
   comment# 17   - lucy marrow · bowen Australia · Oct 25, 2007 @ 5:27pm

FYI The northen group of the Cook Islands are teaming with sharks. The locals are used to their presence and deal with them on a daily basis from a very young age. The victim in question has actually been bitten before, was swimming in open water and was spearfishing at the time. It is common place for sharks to try and steal your catch - and for the spearo to try and keep them at bay by pushing them off. In frustration the sharks are often shot at in an attempt to deter them, in this case the shark reacted quicker than the spearo. The shark in question was a Grey Reef Shark. Spearfishing??? http://www.bluewater-adventures.com
   comment# 18   - Bluewater Adventures · Rarotonga, Cook Islands · Nov 2, 2007 @ 6:26pm

Brenda mass is an less than intelligent person to say such a harsh thing like that if this child was her child would she wish such a thing sick bast#rd, she is. I am a ocean lover the water is my second home and if my last option was to shoot a shark let or what ever beast that posses a great danger to my life it over for that shark or man even or what ever beast.brenda you need help now.
   comment# 19   - jt · miami fl · Sep 22, 2008 @ 1:10pm

Like Bluewater said, it was a grey reef shark (Not Tiger) and we swim with them since we are 2yrs old. Sharks are everywhere in penhryn and once in a while someone gets bitten. We don't have cows, sheep, goats or any other food source other than the sea. We HAVE to live with them and have done so for hundreds of years. Sharks try to take our fish and we have to protect our food and ourselves, we don't have the option of buying takeaways if we come back empty handed. And if any of you shark lovers would like to swap lives for a while let me know. Penrhyn is not like Rarotonga at all! it is 1000km north and very isolated. Rarotonga has not had a shark attack at all.
   comment# 20   - Papa Talu · Penrhyn, Cook Islands · Jan 29, 2009 @ 4:22pm

haha you americans and english. A human life is worth more than a boys. Kill those bastard sharks near any atoll thanks so we can kill other sealife which out having to worry; like Stonefish.
   comment# 21   - justin nz · New Zealand · Mar 9, 2009 @ 7:49pm

If u guys really love shark come to the Northern group of the Cook Island and find out. Papa Talu is right, cause we do swim the sharks. We play and have fun as well. But we also got common sense too. We survive through collecting seafood not buying seafood from takeaways. So dont go accusing my newphew. He survived in the hands of the lord. U should end ur life if u think the shark should end my sons life.
   comment# 22   - Gertrude Maretapu · Penrhyn · Feb 14, 2010 @ 10:16pm

My dad use to work on a pearl farm in Penrhyn and wen u hear all the stories bot his stay there, there's neva one without a shark in it. its scary. for the life of my dad i would hate to hear people talk bot wat could've happend in relation to the 16 year old. i think that the boy's a real survivor. he survived an attack in the water!! its way different than survivin an attack on land! gee! and yes the sea is there source of living. google up penryhn and see y da people hav to depend on the sea for a living. da land is an atoll and da sea takes up 90% of its surroundings.i feel for dat boy! FYI for those people who dont know what they're talkin about, for sure the people of Penryhn respects the sea, we're not chinese people! i take ma hat off to you Turua for makin it out alive you were brave son ! Thank God. Te akaaroa.
   comment# 23   - Teau Puna · Aitutaki, Cook Islands · May 4, 2010 @ 11:24am

Gertrude Maretapu is right. if you want to come to the northern group. COME and experience your challenging on the shark over here in the northern cooks and stop accusing my NEPHEW. U should end your life, if you think the shark should end my nephew life. Turua Maretapu is a tough fighter. He survive in the hands of GOD.
   comment# 24   - Miri Maretapu · Penrhyn · Aug 7, 2015 @ 7:34pm
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