Surfer attacked by shark swims back to shore with leg injuries

A man, aged in his 30s, has bodysurfed back to shore after being bitten on the leg by a shark at Gracetown in Western Australia's southwest.

An RAC Rescue Helicopter was sent to the scene after the male surfer was attacked by a shark about 8am on Monday morning.

The man was flown to Royal Perth Hospital by helicopter and is in a stable condition.

A spokeswoman said he was being assessed in the Emergency Department and would be transported to the state trauma unit on Monday afternoon.

A rescue helicopter has taken a man, aged in his 30s, to Royal Perth Hospital following a shark attack. Source: Instagram/ Sam Robbo

A St John Ambulance WA tweet said: "He is conscious and breathing and being treated for leg injuries".

Friends used the leg-rope from the victim's board as a tourniquet and gave him first aid until emergency crews arrived from Margaret River within six minutes.

Sam Robertson, who said he arrived at the scene right after the attack, explained the man was bitten and then made it back to shore.



Mr Robertson said he had been at the beach on the day of a fatal shark attack 14 years ago.

"That's the reason I don't get in the water."

The incident happened at Cobblestones, south of Gracetown and Cowaramup, near Margaret River, about three hours south of Perth.

Surf photographer Peter Jovic saw the attack from the beach and said there were only about five people in the water at the time.

"If anyone is familiar with the Mick Fanning moment at Jeffreys Bay a couple of years ago, it was very similar to that, where a shark pretty much popped up and ended up knocking a surfer off his board," Mr Jovic told ABC radio.

"There was a lot more thrashing around after that, it was pretty hard to see what was going on.

"The surfer who was being attacked ended up miraculously bodysurfing into a little wave and getting pushed in by a local at the same time, who was out there with him, and making it to shore before everyone came to his aid."

A surfer was attacked by a shark on a beach in Gracetown, WA. Source: Facebook/ World Surf League

Mr Jovic said everyone was "walking around like stunned mullets" after the attack.

It is understood the man has lived in Gracetown for some time, with one friend describing him as "an awesome guy".

Russell Vitale, of Byron Bay, in NSW, was visiting friends in WA and was in the water surfing when the attack occurred.

"I was in the water, I was a few surf breaks up, then two choppers turn up.

"When there are a two choppers, you are usually pretty concerned.

"Then the helicopters started hovering around us quite a lot and sounding their sirens."

The patient arrives at Royal Perth Hospital. He is in a stable condition. Source: 7 News

He said some of the locals would not leave the water, but he was happy to avoid that sort of connection with nature and was happy to get out.

"Surfing has become a really popular sport in the last few years and it just means more legs in the water.

"Sharks are inquisite and they come and investigate with their teeth.

Surf Life Saving WA said a four-metre shark and whale carcass were spotted at 10am at Lefthanders.

Surfers look back at the swell on Cowaramup Bay, in Gracetown. Source: File pic, Getty Images

Beach closures are in place for the Gracetown area, including North Point, Big Rock and Lefthanders.

The Margaret River Pro international surfing competition, which is about 15km away from the attack, was suspended for about one hour, but then resumed at Main Break.

"Surfer and staff safety are top priorities for the World Surf League," a spokeswoman said.

"Further enhanced safety measures, including ski and drone presence, will be added to the event's mitigation protocols."

A spokeswoman for the event said the comeptition wanted to make sure that the surfers were protected.

"We've brought in extra drones and extra jet skis ... everyones go their dedicated jet ski."





Chris Boyd, 35, was killed at nearby Umbies surf break in 2013.

Nick Edwards, 31, also died after a shark attack while surfing at nearby South Point in 2010.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said the attack would make international news given the Margaret River Pro event was on nearby.

He said the incident emphasised the need to do more, including using SMART drumlines, rather than the Labor government's subsidised shark deterrent devices.

"Sharks are still a threat to surfers and people in the ocean here," he told reporters.

"The current policies are simply not adequate."

Comment has been sought from the Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly.


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