Few people have been attacked by a shark and emerged unscathed. Fewer yet have returned the attack upon the shark and still emerged unscathed.
Professional surfer Kaleo Roberson did just that around 11:30 a.m. Saturday while surfing with his twin 8-year-old sons and 6-year-old son Maalaea, Maui. Roberson was holding the oldest twin in his arms when he noticed a disturbance in the water to his left. “That’s what saved my life. I happened to be looking where it was coming from. It was splitting the water in a weird way,” Roberson recounted to Grind TV Outdoor. Roberson said he didn’t realize it was a shark until it was about five feet away from he and his sons.
Before Roberson had time to react to the realization he said the shark “came out of the water and the mouth was so big, I watched the water drain out of its gills. I can’t get that out of my mind. I slid off my board and moved my leg. It bit right where my leg would have been if I didn’t move it.” Though Roberson couldn’t see how large the shark was, other surfers in the water told reporters it was a 14-foot tiger shark.
“It was something you dream of on ‘Shark Week.‘ It was so close to me, and the mouth was so open when it came up. It was in pure attack mode, and it was just right there. I was basically in its mouth. Right then, I realized I was fighting for my life, and I had my sons with me so I took my board, and I started swinging it. I thought I don’t care if this thing bites me, but if my pride and joys are making it to the beach safe, then I’ll feed this thing my leg if I have to.”
After sliding to the side of his board to put it between himself and the shark, Roberson punched it in the nose and shoved the board into the beast’s mouth. “After it hit me, I hit it twice, and it turned so hard that it hit me with its tail and boosted me 4-5 feet through the water, like an extra push with the current of its tail.” Roberson was using a special high-tech board that day and the shark was unable to bite a chunk out of it, but did leave a 14-inch long bite mark near the tail.
“It was kind of stunned. It almost idled there, face to face with me, and I had no choice. I started beating it with the board. I hit it with my surfboard twice. I swung it like a bat.” John Patao, one of the other surfers on the water that day, was about ten feet away from the attack when he saw his friend fighting off the massive shark. “Everyone went into survival mode,” he said. “The shark was attacking him and bit his board one time, and after that the shark was circling him.”
The shark finally turned away, allowing Roberson to get his sons safely to shore. He said he has been surfing regularly for the past 30 years and this is the first time he has ever had a shark encounter, adding that the rough and murky waters were probably part of the reason the shark wasn’t spotted out further.