Surfer punches shark to escape attack in Australia

2015-07-31 07:08

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Sydney - A surfer punched a shark after being attacked on Australia's east coast on Friday, suffering bite wounds to his legs and hands in what a witness said was like "a Mick Fanning replay".

The incident occurred near a popular tourist spot north of Sydney, close to where a bodyboarder was mauled this month, and recalled dramatic images weeks earlier from South Africa when Australian three-time world champion surfer Fanning fought off a shark.

In the latest incident, the man attacked was 100m offshore at Evans Head in New South Wales state when he spotted the fin and shouted to another surfer to get out of the water.

"As he paddled towards shore, the 52-year-old was attacked by the shark which bit his left leg. The impact of the attack knocked the man off his board," police said in a statement.

"The man punched the shark in an attempt to scare it away; during the struggle, the shark also bit his left arm.

"The man eventually made it to shore where a passerby applied a tourniquet to his leg."

Emergency services were called and started working on the man while a police officer drove their ambulance to a nearby hospital, where the surfer, named by local media as Craig Ison, was in a serious but stable condition.

The attack happened just south of tourist hub Ballina, where a bodyboarder was severely injured by a shark this month. A Japanese surfer also died in the area after his legs were torn off in February.

On Sunday, four nearby beaches were closed after numerous shark sightings, with police saying the presence of baitfish was attracting large sharks to the area.

Fellow surfer and friend Geoff Hill, who was in the water with Ison, said it was "like watching a Mick Fanning replay".

Fanning, an Australian three-time world champion surfer, made global headlines this month after dramatically fighting off a shark during a televised competition in South Africa.

"We were just paddling out this morning and Craig was 20m ahead of me. Then he said, 'go in, there's a shark,'" Hill told the local Northern Star newspaper.

"But it grabbed him as he turned around... he managed to get himself on his board.

"It was like watching a Mick Fanning replay. I paddled to him but by then he was on his board and paddling back."

The attack comes just days after a scallop diver was killed by a shark off Maria Island in the southern state of Tasmania as his daughter watched.

Experts say attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular, but fatalities remain rare.

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