Surfer Geoff "Camel" Goulden did not see the shark that mauled Jon Hines - he was focused on the 34-year-old's badly cut arm and cries for help.
He is not even sure if the injured surfer was swearing or yelling "shark".
"I heard him yell 'My arm!' and just saw the red blood around it and I knew it was a serious injury," Mr Goulden said yesterday. "I knew he had to get in really quick . . . people can bleed to death."
The surfer caught a wave behind Mr Hines at Red Bluff in the Gascoyne and was just 20m away when Mr Hines started yelling for help.
Mr Goulden paddled over quickly, telling the injured man to hold on to his leg so he could tow him about 150m to safety.
Waves were crashing on to the edge of the sharp reef the surfers needed to clamber on to reach shore and other beachgoers rushed down to the jagged rocks to help Mr Hines from the water.
"It's a really tricky spot to get in on the reef, the waves smash on to it like a cliff edge," Mr Goulden said.
"Three guys came and met me and I handed him over. They had to walk along the edge of the reef for about 30m or 40m before you can reach the part of the cliff where you can climb up to the mainland."
Mr Goulden towed Mr Hines' surfboard into a beach about 200m away, where there was a house and an ambulance was called.
"By the time I walked back, 10 or more people were carrying him to a car," he said.
Mr Goulden, 40, has remained this week at Red Bluff, the remote stretch of coast where Mr Hines was attacked on Tuesday.
The well-known but reclusive big-wave surfer dismissed reports of his bravery.
"I'm not a hero, not at all," Mr Goulden said. "They should put their attention on poor Jon Hines and his family, they're the ones who need help."
Mr Hines is stable in hospital but faces a long road to recovery.
Mr Goulden said the shark was not biting Mr Hines when he went to his aid and he was not too worried about the predators. "I dive, I surf and sharks are a part of my life," he said. "I just thought the natural thing to do was to give him help as soon as possible."
Mr Goulden said he had known Mr Hines, from NSW, and his brother Nathan for a few years from and said they were great blokes.
Mr Goulden, 40, thinks Mr Hines had been in the water about an hour when he was attacked about 3.30pm. He said the shark lunged when Mr Hines was in the break zone after catching a wave.
"He was under water coming to the surface, grabbing his board to paddle back out again," Mr Goulden said. "It happened right there and then.
"He wasn't even lying on his surfboard, he was in the water next to it. It got him when he was really vulnerable. It just came and latched on and his surfboard wasn't damaged."
Though Mr Goulden did not see the shark, other people did.
"They said it was swimming around underneath," he said.
Mr Goulden said he had previously had close encounters with the dangerous predators but nothing like having someone attacked in front of him.
The incident had not kept him out of the water but he thinks researchers need to investigate what caused the rise in shark attacks.
"There must be something out of balance in nature," he said. "When I was a kid there weren't shark attacks here in WA.
"It's gone from being a place that we thought was pretty safe from shark attacks 20 years ago . . . now it's common."
Weekend aerial shark patrols from Yanchep to Mandurah will begin today and be extended to seven days a week from October 1.