2 friends recount ‘terrifying’ encounter with tiger shark off Hawaii

The paddleboarders estimated the shark to be about 15 feet long. (Source: KHNL)
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:43 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2023 at 8:29 PM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Patrick Wardle and Megan Valentine were out paddleboarding in South Maui a week and a half ago when they encountered a large tiger shark.

“Just floating, enjoying the best of what Maui has to offer and all of a sudden, saw this large shape approaching,” Wardle said.

“I thought giant manta ray, baby whale,” said Valentine. “Obviously ,as it got closer, it became very clear that it was this massive shark.”

The friends were both on one inflatable paddleboard around noon about a mile out from shore in Kihei.

They estimate the shark was about 15 feet long.

“Took the paddle and put it on its nose. I’ve heard you really try to engage with them and kind of deflect them,” said Wardle. “But the paddleboard got like a boost forward because of just the strength of this animal.

“I just remember feeling the muscle and the strength.”

The pair said the shark just kept coming.

“Lunged out of the water and took about two feet of the paddle in its mouth, chopped down, snapped it in half, and this is a carbon fiber brand new paddleboard paddle,” Wardle said.

“It was terrifying,” said Valentine.

That wasn’t all. They say the shark came back a third time.

“This 15-foot shark is chomped on the back of the paddleboard, kind of shaking it, I remember its eye just looking at me and kind of just like okay, this is this is game time,” Wardle said.

The shark broke the paddle and punctured the paddleboard, but the two friends managed to stay on, and escape unscathed.

They used their arms to paddle back to shore, even with the back of the board deflated. It took them about 45 minutes.

They now have a new appreciation for life — and sharks.

“Don’t want this story to scare people,” Valentine said.

“Definitely something to be aware of. Definitely always guests in the ocean, but it’s such a just extraordinary place, and even that experience with a shark, there was something so beautiful about it. Like it’s this magnificent creature and like totally terrifying, but I respect it.”

Even after that scary encounter, the two are already back in the ocean doing what they love.

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