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Paddleboarder Encounters Hammerhead Shark During Charity Relay

Woman describes surreal moment as shark swims under her board, but remains unharmed

A woman paddleboarding across the ocean described the “surreal” moment a hammerhead shark swam under her board.

Fish, Great Hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran, Historical, digitally restored reproduction from an original from the 19th century. (BILDAGENTUR-ONLINE/UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES)

Malea Tribble, 38, was completing a charity paddleboarding relay with her husband, Ricky, 38, who both work in the casino industry, when their crew spotted the animal swimming nearby.

Malea said she saw her husband’s “face drop” and knew immediately what the creature was.

Malea, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said: “I felt something tap my board, and I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a bit of seaweed.

“My husband was in the safety boat watching me, and when I saw his face drop, I knew what it was.

“I think my adrenaline and my instinct took over, and I was just focusing on following instructions and not falling off.

“I paddled to the side of the boat, and the shark swam under the bored and looked right at me.

“It was surreal. But there wasn’t a moment where I felt unsafe.”

The couple were taking part in an 83-mile relay race Crossing For Cystic Fibrosis on Sunday, June 25.

After starting the journey from Bimini in the Bahamas at midnight, the couple and their safety crew were halfway to Florida when they spotted the shark.

Most hammerhead species are fairly small and are considered harmless to humans.

According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been only 16 recorded incidents between humans and hammerhead sharks since 1900, and of those, there have been zero deaths.

Once the shark had swam away the team decided they were able to continue the race and so began paddling once again.

Malea said: “We waited a few minutes and met as a group. We discussed and decided to carry on.

“The shark wasn’t there anymore, and we were confident in our abilities.

“There wasn’t a moment where we felt unsafe. I’m glad I didn’t see it at the time, so I didn’t allow myself to get nervous.

“The shark wasn’t aggressive at all. It had every opportunity to knock me off my board if it wanted to, but it didn’t.

“So 10 minutes later, we were back on our boards and continuing the race.”

Founder and Executive Director of The Crossing For CF event, Travis Suit, said: “We are grateful Malea was not harmed and so proud of the calm and disciplined response the Tribbles had during the situation as paddle mentors in this event, providing a great example of how to handle close encounters like this.

“We are visitors when we are in the ocean. It’s really their home, so it’s to be expected.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Donald Gunderson

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