(VitalNews.org) – A woman looking to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis instead caught the attention of a hammerhead shark as she paddled the waters between Florida and the Bahamas. Video footage shows Malea Tribble, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, standing upright on her paddleboard in the water while a hammerhead shark follows her, just inches away from the board.
Malea Tribble was taking part in the 10th anniversary “Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis” event as part of a relay team that included her husband, Ricky Tribble, who was on a safety boat nearby at the time of the shark encounter. The pair are both experienced paddleboarders, and when Malea felt her paddle snag on something in the water, she presumed it was simply caught in seaweed and thought nothing of it. It was only when she looked up and saw her husband’s facial expression that she thought something might be wrong; when she heard him tell the boat’s captain to shut off the engine, she realized that there must be a shark nearby.
The Tribbles managed to remain calm, with Ricky directing his wife back to the boat while watching the shark’s movements. Malea followed Ricky’s instructions to the letter and was able to get back to the boat safely. She later told reporters that her husband joked that it was the only time she had ever listened to him. Malea’s fellow paddleboarder Gabe Barajas was also in the water when the shark appeared behind Malea’s board. Like the Tribbles, he was able to stay calm and follow instructions from helpers on the safety boat, getting back to the boat without any further incident.
Coming within inches of a potentially deadly shark did not stop the paddleboarders from finishing their journey. They took a ten-minute break aboard the boat before deciding to get back in the water and carry on with their crossing. Malea Tribble said afterward that the “Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis” event was all about confronting your fears, and that in coming face to face with a shark and carrying on, she faced a “huge fear” of hers and managed to emerge “stronger than [she] thought [she] would be”.
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