Tracing the path of his mate's blood along a pristine beach north of Carnarvon, Mick Slocombe knew something was terribly wrong.
The 31-year-old was breathing heavily as he staggered on to the sand after a short but tortuous swim to shore.
A few frantic minutes earlier he popped up from the waves to see his old school friend Adam Haling bolting from the shallows.
Though some distance away, Mr Slocombe could not mistake the spine-chilling word from Mr Haling.
"He yelled 'shark' from the shore when I was in the water," Mr Slocombe said. "He was running away and that obviously alarmed me because he is usually quite a calm and casual kind of guy."
Still 200m from safety, Mr Slocombe was desperate to reach his friend but feared being the next victim.
"As I'm swimming I am obviously looking around me thinking something's about to hit," he said.
"I got to the shore and that's when I started to see blood and followed it."
The horrific trail led Mr Slocombe to think his friend had lost a limb. "From 30 metres it looked like he was holding his arm," he said.
"In fact, he was holding his face. I got to him and he said, 'I'm in a lot of trouble, do you want to have a look?' He took his hand away from his face and revealed everything."
Photos emerged yesterday of Mr Haling's gruesome injuries inflicted by the reef shark as he speared fish off Gnaraloo Station.
With his friend losing even more blood, Mr Slocombe took a deep breath. "I knew I had to be calm because if I wasn't he might have gone into shock," he said.
After driving to the Gnaraloo homestead and getting bandages and painkillers, Mr Slocombe - "running on pure adrenaline" - set course for Carnarvon.
The stricken pair made good speed after a nearby mine granted access to its haul roads.
They met an ambulance at the end of the mine and Mr Haling was taken to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. "It was pretty hard for me to sleep that night," Mr Slocombe said.
Mr Haling spent several days in Royal Perth Hospital where doctors stitched up his throat, mouth and nose.
Mr Slocombe said the ocean was a big part of his life and the incident would not stop him returning to it.
The last reported reef shark attack in WA was in April when a Perth man had minor wounds at Coral Bay.