HONOLULU—A teen surfing off the Hawaii island of Oahu escaped a shark encounter uninjured, but his board didn’t.
KHON-TV reports 16-year-old Max Keliikipi was waiting for a wave on the evening of Aug. 11 near Makaha Beach when he spotted what he thought was a turtle fin.
Soon, Keliikipi realized it was a shark. So he jumped up, sitting with his feet on his board, not letting his legs dangle below the surface as easy prey for the aquatic predator.
The teen says the shark chomped down on the front of his board just inches from his foot, taking off a chunk bigger than his head.
“It bit a huge chunk off my board,” he said. “If my feet were a little further up the board, it would have bit my toes off.”
The shark’s impact threw him into the water.
The junior lifeguard says his flight instinct kicked in and he swam toward shore. He made it to land safely.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has recorded seven shark bites this year.
Undaunted, He Plans to Keep Surfing
Comparing the shark’s length to his 6-foot surfboard, Keliikipi reckoned the shark was 7 to 10 feet long. At first, he thought it was black-fin, but his lifeguard friends said it was probably a tiger shark, he said.
Signs have been posted at the beach to warn beachgoers about the recent shark presence in the shallow waters.
He says he’s known somewhere between 10 and 20 surfers who’ve been attacked by sharks.
“It’s not common, but it’s not uncommon either,” he said.
Keliikipi doesn’t plan to quit surfing, but the attack inspired him to be more mindful on future maritime adventures. If you’re going surfing, he says to “go with someone who knows the area well.”
And don’t panic. “That’s what kills people.”
How To Survive a Shark Attack?
CNN has a guide on how to survive a shark attack, which includes tactics like acting “big” and trying to intimidate the shark, and deliberately hitting the shark. It also says to spring for the shore, which is what Keliikipi did.
But don’t let fear keep you on the shore forever.
“I don’t want to go inside,” he said. “That’s how the sharks win.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.