Surfer survives shark attack without a scratch

(NBC) - Jim Rawlinson is a carpenter and a recreational surfer. Monday afternoon in Hanalei Bay, the 68-year-old Anahola resident was nearly hammered by a tiger shark that took a bite out of his board.

"The shark hit me on the tail and took the back of my board in his mouth," he said. "It lifted me up in the air and I slid off of the board onto the shark's back. I don't know how long I was on his back - for 5-10 seconds."

Rawlinson was surfing a quarter-mile out in 1-to-2-foot waves. The water was murky.

"The way I saw it, it looked like the shark had grabbed him and was swinging him around," said surfer Leslie McTaggart, who saw the shark strike. "The water was churning and a huge tail and fin came up."

Marine biologist Terry Lilley was diving nearby. He said the shark probably was hunting sea turtles. He estimates it was a 14-footer. Rawlinson said the tiger shark was a lot longer than his 8-foot board.

"The thing was wider than my board and it had a huge head," he said. "I guess I was probably about 2, maybe 3 feet off of its head."

"As I paddled toward him there were chunks of his board floating by," McTaggart said. "That meant the shark was probably under me spitting them out as he went."

Rawlinson added, "I was in survival mode. Something told me to swim toward the shallow reef. The next thing you know, I'm looking at my board. It's just bobbing in the water."

Rawlinson retrieved his board, caught another few waves, then paddled in. He survived the scare without a scratch.

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