A Chanhassen man returned from his trip to Hawaii with a souvenir: the paddleboard he credits with saving him from a 14-foot tiger shark.
Matt Mason gave this account of his adventure to the Pioneer Press:
He was paddleboarding with his wife in Maui on the last day of his Hawaiian trip when he felt a jolt and his board began speeding forward.
Thinking his wife had playfully rammed him, Mason was surprised to turn around and see a shark with its jaws clamped on the board.
When the shark twisted he fell, landing on the shark's back. His wife, Beth Mason, was yelling "Hit him!" ("Who hasn't watched Shark Week?" she asked the Pioneer Press.)
As the shark kept its grip on the paddleboard, Matt delivered a punch to its midsection and swam away. Soon he spotted the board floating nearby with no shark in sight.
While paddling back to safety he jokingly asked Beth to go back and retrieve his sunglasses. His question for the crowd that had gathered on the beach: "“Seriously, no one’s getting me a beer?"
Mason then bought the board from the rental agency (they sold it to him for half price) and he tells the Pioneer Press, “I wouldn’t let the board out of my sight the whole day. I was really attached to it that day.”
From the bite marks on the board, a natural resources manager calculated the size of the shark to be 14 feet.
WCCO says there had been another report of a shark attack earlier in the day and the beach was closed after Mason's episode.
Now safely back in Minnesota, Mason tells FOX 9 getting through his shark experience unscathed has him feeling a little bulletproof as he considers the hazards in his home state's lakes:“Muskies, leeches – bring it on man,” Mason said.
How common are shark attacks in Hawaii?
According to GoHawaii, since 1990 the number of shark attacks on the state's beaches has ranged from one to 14 per year. Meanwhile, the site says, about 60 visitors per year die from drowning.
According to a list of shark incidents maintained by the state, there were 10 last year, including one in which a snorkeler was killed by a shark.
Here are some safety tips to reduce your chances of encountering a shark.