A surfer has been left with serious injuries to both of his legs after being attacked by a shark off the coast of southwestern Australia.
Local ambulance spokesman Dennis Bertoldo said the man, aged in his 30s, was surfing near Gracetown when he was attacked at around 8am local time on Monday.
He was treated on the beach by paramedics before being flown 160 miles by helicopter to a hospital in Perth, where he remains in a serious but stable condition.
Photographer Peter Jovic, a witness to the incident, told ABC how the surfer had managed to “body surf” back to the beach after being attacked.
He said there was a “lot of thrashing around”, which made it “hard to see what was going on”
“I saw the guy who had been attacked get separated from the board and then start to paddle for an inside wave, which he managed to body surf all the way in,” he added.
“They got him to shore and started working on him to stem the bleeding.”
Another witness, Brett Newland, told the station it was a “large shark” and that “from the way it was behaving, it would have been a white pointer” – better known as a great white.
The attack prompted the World Surf League (WSL) to temporarily postpone the nearby Margaret River Pro surfing contest, with lifeguards having spotted a 13-foot-long shark just off a nearby beach two hours later.
In a statement posted to its Facebook page following the incident, the WSL said it had decided to suspend the competition for an hour after “discussions with local authorities”.
The league added: “Surfer and staff safety are top priorities for the WSL and when competition resumes, further enhanced safety measures, including ski and drone presence, will be added to the event’s mitigation protocols. We look forward to a great completion of the event.”
Several beaches in the Gracetown area were closed in the wake of the attack, including Lefthanders, where the Department of Fisheries reported the presence of a whale carcass.
An alert has been issued warning beach-goers that the carcass could draw sharks closer to shore.