A surfer repeatedly punched and scratched a shark and stuck his hand in its gill as it mauled his torso and right arm at a remote Gascoyne surf spot.
Surgeons operated on civil engineer Jon Hines' right arm yesterday after he suffered severe bite wounds when he tried to fend off the shark after it savagely bit his stomach. He remains in a stable condition this morning.
The 34-year-old was surfing off Red Bluff, an isolated stretch of coast about 160km north of Carnarvon, on Tuesday afternoon.
More details also emerged yesterday of the bravery of WA surfer Geoff Goulden, known as Camel, who paddled to Mr Hines' aid despite the blood in the water and the shark still nearby.
Mr Hines, a passionate surfer and project manager with Newcastle firm Graph Building, was on a surfing holiday with his brother Nathan and several others when the predator attacked at 3.25pm.
It was just seconds after Mr Hines had caught a wave.
It is still unclear what type of shark it was.
Mr Goulden told Seven News: "We saw it just thrashing around and saw a bit of its body."
Former surfing professional Josh Palmateer was on the beach but heard the commotion and said other surfers told him the shark lunged at Mr Hines in the whitewash.
"It got him on the torso and it came back and that's when he's got his arm when he was trying to fight it," Mr Palmateer said.
"He was sticking his hand in its gill and punching it on the nose."
Mr Goulden said Mr Hines was yelling out "my arm, my arm" and he paddled immediately to help, taking just a "minute or two" to get him to shore.
Others on the beach wrapped him in towels to stem the bleeding. Nathan Hines and local campground manager Jim Caldwell kept pressure on Mr Hines' wounds during the 1½-hour drive to meet the ambulance.
Mr Hines' wife and parents flew from NSW yesterday to be by his side. Family friend Jeff McCloy said doctors were confident Mr Hines would get most of the movement back in his arm.
"At least he is OK," Mr McCloy said last night. "They think he will get most of the movement back and his stomach will heal over time - he has definitely dodged a bullet."
Looking over the spot yesterday where the attack took place, 15-year-old surfer Imogen Caldwell recalled "freaking out" after hearing a shocking scream while surfing the break known as the Point with a friend. The cry of "shark" cut through the air.
There were no signs of a predator but the water changed to a dark red.
Imogen said Mr Hines started calling for help and surfers, including Mr Goulden, quickly rushed to his aid.
Soon the entire camp was descending on the beach.
Tony Sappelli said he saw Mr Hines, bloody and injured, being towed to shore and initially assumed his injuries were from falling off his board on to the reef.
Onlookers soon realised the gashes in his flesh were from a shark attack.
Mr Sappelli, who owns a surf shop in Dongara, spends winter surfing the renowned breaks dotting the coast from Quobba Station to Gnaraloo, as does Mr Goulden.
Mr Sappelli said surfing injuries were not unheard of but he had not known of a shark attack in his 33 years of making his annual pilgrimage.
Undeterred by the incident or a Shire of Carnarvon sign saying the beach was closed, Mr Sappelli and a few other surfers took to the water at the point yesterday.
"I am not really bothered but it will be in the back of my mind," he said.
The beaches around Red Bluff have been reopened this morning.
Surfer Keith Halnan, of Margaret River, doubted the shark was a great white.
He believed it was more likely a tiger or bull shark, which were more common in northern WA waters.
As he waxed his board in preparation for the day's session, he said he was not worried about entering the water.
"I would say it's a bit of a random act," he said.
Climbing down a cliff, before paddling to the break, Mr Halnan said he was operating on the principle that lightning did not strike the same place twice.
Tuesday's attack was the second shark strike in the Gascoyne region this year.
In January, a 3m tiger shark bit a 26-year-old tour guide's arm while he was leading a tour group at the popular snorkelling spot the Lagoon, 15km north of the Coral Bay settlement.