Surfer Doug Niblack was looking to catch just one more wave before paddling back in to go to work. He ended up catching the ride of a lifetime, on the back of a great white shark, according to the Boston Globe.
The unbelievable and terrifying story unfolded after Niblack had paddled about 50 yards out from a popular surfing spot along the Oregon coast called The Cove. The waves were reportedly getting larger and most of the surfers had already made their way back to shore, leaving just Niblack and two others waiting for one final wave, bobbing up and down in the undulating swell.
The water that far out is too deep for standing, so Niblack was understandably surprised when his board suddenly hit something solid. To gain his balance, he kicked down with both feet and somehow found himself standing up knee deep in open water. He looked down, and that's when he saw the shark's dorsal fin.
"It was pretty terrifying just seeing the shape emerge out of nothing and just being under me," he said. "And the fin coming out of the water. It was just like the movies."
As he stood atop the back of the 10-foot shark, Niblack said it began thrashing its tail back and forth, churning the water around him like a depth charge. Niblack figures he had managed to surf on the back of the shark for as long as three or four seconds before it swam out from under him, bucking him off.
"When I put my hands down on it, it felt rubbery like Neoprene, like a wetsuit," he said. "There was a moment there when everything was going on, I just kind of made my peace. I honestly thought I was going to die."
The ordeal was far from over. As the shark swam away, its dorsal fin caught his board and dragged him another three or four feet by his ankle tether.
"I'm just screaming bloody murder," he said. "I'm just yelling, 'Shark!' I thought for sure I was gone."
Amazingly, Niblack was able to paddle furiously back to shore unscathed. The story is so unbelievable that it might have been dismissed as another tall tale from surfing lore, if not for eyewitness Jake Marks, a member of the Coast Guard who was out surfing with Niblack when the event occurred.
Marks said he couldn't believe it himself when he saw Niblack suddenly standing up in the water amidst violent splashes.
"I have no reason to doubt there was a shark out there," said Marks. "With the damage to his board, the way he was yelling and trembling afterwards — there is no other explanation for that."
Niblack might be the first to surf on the back of a great white shark, but his encounter is not entirely unprecedented. In 2008, a woman kayaking off Catalina Island in California was sent flying into the air and onto the back of a shark after the fish had slammed her kayak. The woman reportedly lay atop the shark for a few moments before it began to swim back out to sea.
So, does Niblack intend to reenter the water after his frightening encounter? He not only answered 'yes,' but also purchased a waterproof video camera to capture a repeat event, should one occur.
"I'll definitely go back out," he said. "It's just the surf sucks right now. I'll wait 'til that gets better, then go back out."