Paddleboarder fights off tiger shark attack off Maui; ‘Shark! Shark! Shark!’

Matt and Beth Mason stand behind shark warning sign after shark encounter off Maui.
Matt and Beth Mason stand behind shark warning sign after shark encounter off Maui. Photo: Courtesy of Matt Mason
At first, Matt Mason thought his wife had jokingly paddled into him from behind while he kneeled on his paddleboard, but when he turned around, he discovered the sudden jolt was no joke. A tiger shark was biting the back of his paddleboard.

Mason and his wife, Beth, were paddleboarding about 150 yards off Wailea Beach in Maui on Saturday when the frightening encounter occurred, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

“There was this head attached to the back of the board,” Mason, of Chanhassen, Minnesota, told the Pioneer Press. “I yelled, ‘Shark! Shark! Shark!’ Probably in a lot higher-pitched voice than I’m using right now.”

Beth was paddling five-feet behind him and saw the tiger shark swim under her and clamp onto the back of her husband’s paddleboard. The shark gave it a twist and knocked him off and onto the back of the shark.

“Hit him Mas, hit him!” Beth yelled, later joking, “I was giving him advice. Who hasn’t watched Shark Week?”

Matt started punching the tiger shark in the midsection while the shark still had ahold of the paddleboard. He believes that’s why it didn’t bite him.

The board’s leash ripped from his ankle when he fell in. After fighting off the shark, Matt grabbed his paddle and swam toward his paddleboard, which looked like “an aircraft carrier in front of me … I felt so much safer when I was on that board.”

Back of the paddle board shows bites from a tiger shark.
Back of the paddleboard shows bites from a tiger shark. Photo: Courtesy of Matt Mason

The two then paddled quickly to shore and contacted authorities, who determined by the bite marks on the paddleboard that it was a 14-foot tiger shark. “Shark sighted” warning signs were posted on the beach, where the couple took photos and shared them with the media.

MauiWatch captured video of Matt talking about the shark attack and posted it on YouTube.

Though shaken, the couple maintained a sense of humor. Matt lost his sunglasses during the encounter and asked his wife to jump in and grab them.

“It was pretty wild,” Beth said. “It was very surreal.”

As a memento, Matt purchased the $1,000 paddleboard for $500 from the Four Seasons Resort Maui, which offered to ship it back to Minnesota. The hotel also comped the rest of the day and replaced Matt’s sunglasses.

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