Hawaiian Surfer, 16, Survives Shark Attack After It Takes a Bite Out of His Surfboard
A Hawaiian teen is lucky to be alive after a shark came close to biting off one of his limbs while he was out for a surf recently.
Max Keliikipi has been surfing almost every day this summer, but he’s never encountered a shark before.
That all changed on Sunday when the 16-year-old went out surfing and was waiting for one last wave, approximately 100 yards away from the shore, and saw something sticking out of the water, KHON2 News reports.
What Keliikipi initially believed was a turtle fin poking out from the water ultimately turned out to be a shark.
With nowhere else to go, Keliikipi said he quickly pulled himself onto the board, sitting up and making sure that all of his limbs were on top and not dangling in the water.
Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the shark from darting towards him.
The aquatic predator’s aggressive force knocked the teen into the water before it took a bite out of the nose of his surfboard — just inches away from where his feet were.
“It goes underneath the water and I put my feet on top of my board and I’m just sitting there, looking around for it,” he told the outlet. “And then, boom! Comes up from underneath [and] bites my board. It was literally an inch or two away from my feet.”
“It’s, like, bigger than my head, I didn’t even realize how big this shark bite was until now,” he added, as he held up his newly-destroyed board.
In the heat of the moment, Keliikipi, a junior lifeguard, told KHON2 News that he began swimming back to the shore — a decision he says was a “fight or flight [and] for me, it was flight.”
“As soon as I hit the water, I just started swimming and I didn’t really think about where the shark was,” he explained. “I just had to get in.”
Though he didn’t have much time to observe the shark, Keliikipi recalled to CNN that it was about 7-10 feet long. (His lifeguard friends later told him it was probably a tiger shark.)
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As a frequent surfer in Hawaii, Keliikipi told CNN that the encounter was not completely unheard of and said he knows about 10 to 20 surfers who have been attacked by sharks.
“It’s not common, but it’s not uncommon either,” he explained to the outlet.
Still, Keliikipi credited his calmness for saving his life in what could’ve been a serious or fatal situation.
“[Panicking] is what kills people,” he told CNN.
Despite the terrifying experience, Keliikipi said this won’t change his outlook on surfing and being in the water.
“I don’t want to go inside,” he told CNN. “That’s how the sharks win.”
He, will, however, be a bit more mindful about his surfing decisions in the future.
“Next time, I’m just gonna go in the daytime and with my friends,” he shared with KHON2 News. “I’m not surfing there alone anymore.”