A surfer has come to the rescue of a woman being mauled by a shark near Port Macquarie, punching the beast repeatedly until it let her go.
Paramedics were called to Shelly Beach on NSW's mid-north coast about 9:30am on Saturday, after the woman was attacked while surfing.
The 35-year-old was rushed to Port Macquarie Base Hospital with serious leg injuries, but has since been flown to Newcastle where she will undergo surgery.
Police said the woman and a man were surfing when she was bitten on the right calf and the back of her thigh.
Her companion was forced to punch the shark until it let go and the woman, who is a lifesaver, was also surfing at the time of the attack.
"This is the third serious shark attack on the north coast over the last few months," Andrew Beverley said in a statement.
Three paramedic crews and a specialist medical team in the Westpac Helicopter responded to the incident.
Paramedics were on the scene within eight minutes, but Mr Beverley said the bystanders who rendered first aid should be commended.
"They did an amazing job before we arrived."
Beaches in Port Macquarie have been closed for the day.
Beaches in Port Macquarie have been closed for 24 hours as authorities work to identify the species of the shark.
Earlier reports had said the woman was 20.
There have been five fatal shark attacks in Australian waters in 2020.
One of them was in WA in January, when experienced diver Gary Johnson, 57, was taken near Cull Island, close to West Beach in Esperance.
In July, a 10-year-old boy suffered shock and cuts when a shark ripped him from a fishing boat about five kilometres offshore from Stanley in northwest Tasmania.
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