A bodysurfer who suffered a serious shark bite channelled star surfer Mick Fanning by punching the shark in the head to scare it off.
Paul Kenny, 50, was surfing at Samurai Beach near Port Stephens just north of Newcastle in New South Wales, when he collided with what was reported to be a bull shark.
Mr Kenny told the ABC he was swimming out into deeper water about 7.20am on Saturday when he accidentally head-butted the shark, which responded by fastening its jaws on his right arm.
“It just grabbed me and I just started punching it, until it let go,” Mr Kenny told the broadcaster. “And then [I] started getting back out of the surf as quick as I could, holding my arm, because there was blood everywhere, hoping it [the shark] wouldn’t come back.”
Mr Kenny was able to make it back to shore, where witnesses called the rescue helicopter. However, the flight was called off when it was established the injury was not life-threatening.
He was taken to Hunter Hospital where his condition was described as stable.
“We believe the patient bumped into the shark while surfing at which point the shark spun around and latched onto his arm,” ambulance Police Inspector Brian Knowles told 2GB radio.
“He then managed to punch the shark in the head and get away and escape to shore.”
At the same beach in January last year, young surfer Eden Hasson, 10, was famously photographed within metres of a great white shark.
Eyewitness Garry Sharp told The Newcastle Herald he saw the attack unfold.
“I had just pulled up at Samurai to check the surf,” he said.
“I had noticed the lone swimmer in the water and the next thing the shark appeared.”
A NSW Ambulance spokesman told AAP the victim was “conscious and alert” when helped from the water.
He suffered an injury to his upper right arm and torso and was taken to John Hunter Hospital in a stable condition.
On Friday National Parks and Wildlife Service officers removed a large decomposed whale carcass that had washed ashore at neighbouring One Mile Beach.
“A 20-tonne excavator and front-end loader were used to remove the 10-tonne whale carcass to a local disposal site for burial away from the beach,” a NPWS spokesman said on Friday.
It’s thought the sperm whale carcass could have led to increased shark activity in the area.
The shark attack on Saturday follows two life-threatening shark attacks in the Whitsunday Islands within 12 hours of each other, in late September.
Melbourne girl Hannah Papps, 12, had to have her left leg amputated after sustaining a serious injury when she was bitten near Cid Harbour on September 20.
About 24 hours earlier, a shark bit the upper left thigh of 46-year-old Justine Barwick in the same harbour. She remained in the Intensive Care Unit at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for 18 days before returning home.
Queensland Fisheries officers killed a total of six sharks – including five tiger sharks and one small black-tip shark – following the attacks, usingdrum lines with baited hooks.
Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said the shark control equipment, helped highlight the danger of sharks in the area.
“By removing these large sharks we have made the area safer and the publicity around our actions has certainly made everyone more conscious of their own wellbeing in those waters,” Mr Furner said.