SYDNEY: A veteran surfer escaped with foot and arm injuries after a great white shark rammed his board and dragged him underwater off Australia’s east coast on Thursday.
The 65-year-old managed to swim ashore and raise the alarm, before being airlifted to hospital in a stable condition. “The surfer received puncture wounds to his foot and his arm,” New South Wales state police said of the incident at Seven Mile Beach near Forster, 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of Sydney.
The state’s department of primary industries, which attended the scene, tweeted that “specialists have confirmed the shark involved in an incident off Booti Booti National Park this morning was a white shark”. The Newcastle Herald reported it measured up to 3.5 metres (11 feet), with pictures showing a large chunk bitten off the man’s board, which split in half.
Westpac rescue helicopter crewman Graham Nickerson said the surfer told him he was with friends when the shark hit him from underneath. “Apparently the shark came up under his board, snapped his board in two and then dragged him under by the leg rope,” Nickerson told reporters.
“He’s quite happy… considering what he’s been through, but he’s got pretty severe lacerations to his lower limbs, but he’s in a stable condition.” The beach has been closed until further notice.
The attack is the latest off the New South Wales coast in recent months, with a surfer sustaining cuts to his leg just weeks ago while in the water near popular tourist spot Byron Bay. Experts say shark attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore, but fatalities remain rare. – AFP