Authorities have closed Broome’s famous Cable Beach, in northern Western Australia, after a surfer’s board was bitten by an unidentified shark on Wednesday morning.
The incident occurred about 7am, and the ABC understands the man was not injured.
Police were at the scene at Cable Beach and were investigating, along with Department of Fisheries staff.
The Shire of Broome has confirmed Cable Beach will be closed until further notice.
The incident comes less than a month after Broome man Charles Cernobori died after being attacked by a bull shark off the same beach, the first fatal shark attack in Broome for nearly three decades.
Mr Cernobori was attacked in shallow water while he was bodyboarding.
Surfer shaken but ‘fine’
Broome surfer Steve Pearse is a friend of the man whose board was bitten, and spoke to him after the incident.
“He seems fine, a bit shaken obviously, but he’s a pretty solid guy,” Mr Pearse said.
“It could have been another sad situation, but he’s actually come out of it in good shape.”
The man described the moment the shark bit his board to Mr Pearse.
“The way [he] was describing it, he was just about to paddle onto a set that was coming in, so he would have been about 50 metres out,” Mr Pearse said.
“As he’s gone to do this stroke to get on to the wave, he’s felt this bump sort of come from below and from the rear of his board.”
The surfer did not immediately realise that a shark had attacked his surfboard.
“Initially he thought he’d just hit another surfer just next to him,” Mr Pearse said.
“He said, ‘Hey, did I just hit your board?’ And the other guy that was in the water said, ‘No, it wasn’t me’.
“At that point he thought ‘All right, that was a shark, I’ve got to go in.’ So they all paddled in.”
Shark’s teeth punctured board
Back on the beach, the surfers examined the man’s board and discovered bite marks to the rear.
“It’s about six or seven teeth marks, so it looks like the shark’s just touched down on the fibreglass and punctured it,” Mr Pearse said.
“The mouth would have had to be reasonably sized to get over the fin.”
The type of shark has not yet been identified, but the ABC understands the surfboard has been taken for DNA testing.
Mr Pearse said it had been a lucky escape.
“If Sam had have been on a smaller board, it might have been a different story,” he said said.
“He’s an extremely lucky guy.”