(SHARK ENCOUNTERS) OREGON — Shark encounters are a frightening prospect, especially when you find yourself on top of one. While surfing in Oregon, a man was rammed and knocked off his board. But rather than falling into the water, he found himself suddenly ridding on the back of a 10 foot Great White Shark. Fortunately, the shark quickly scurried away and the man safely swam back to his board. Read on for more regarding the incident and how the man is coping. —  Global Animal

Discovery News, Jennifer Viegas

Though rare, shark encounters can prove life threatening. Photo Credit: Brian J. Skerry/National Geographic

Surfer Doug Niblack of Oregon had the ride of his life recently when he wound up standing on top of a thrashing great white shark instead of his surf board, reports the Associated Press.

Niblack recalled feeling his longboard hit something as he surfed about 50 yards off the Oregon Coast. After that bump, he said he saw a dorsal fin in front of him, with his feet planted on 10 feet of shark back. As this was going on, he said the shark’s tail thrashed back and forth.

“It was pretty terrifying just seeing the shape emerge out of nothing and just being under me,” Niblack told the AP on Wednesday. “And the fin coming out of the water. It was just like the movies.”

“When I put my hands down on it, it felt rubbery like Neoprene, like a wetsuit,” he continued. “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. Then paddling back in, I was praying the whole time. Like, ‘Don’t let it be following me.'”

Niblack estimates that he stood on the shark for three to four seconds, when the great white went out from beneath him. The dorsal fin caught his board, he said, dragging him three or four feet by his ankle tether.

This event itself might have been dismissed as pure fiction, except an off-duty U.S. Coast Guard member, Jake Marks, happened to also be surfing nearby and saw some of the action.

Marks never viewed the shark, but he said he witnessed Niblack suddenly standing up, with water churning around him. Niblack started to frantically paddle as fast as he could to shore. Marks, watching all of this, paddled in fear too. He even told the AP that he noticed a large shape swimming off between them just beneath the surface.

Safe on shore at Seaside, Niblack assessed his board for damage and found quite a few gashes that weren’t present beforehand.

“I have no reason to doubt there was a shark out there,” Marks said. “With the damage to his board, the way he was yelling and trembling afterwards — there is no other explanation for that.”

Ralph Collier, president of the Shark Research Committee and director of the Global Shark Attack File, is a believer too. He recalled speaking to a woman kayaker who, in 2008, had a shark slam into her kayak from underneath, sending her airborne. Collier said she then landed on the back of the shark.

“At that point the shark started to swim out to sea, so she jumped off its back,” Collier said.

Despite such risks, Niblack plans to return to surfing soon, with one change: he’s going to bring a video camera with him that’s a gift from his roommate.

“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.”

More Discovery News: http://news.discovery.com/animals/surfer-shark-board-111014.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1

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