An Australian surfer was seriously injured after he punched a shark that attacked him off the north coast of New South Wales on Friday, local police reportedly said. The attack comes less than a week after a scallop diver was killed by a great white shark in Tasmania, island state off Australia’s south coast.
Craig Ison received serious injuries to his leg and arm during the attack at Evans Head, nearly 340 miles north of Sydney, authorities reportedly said. The 52-year-old was taken to Lismore Base Hospital in serious condition, but police later said that he was stable, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Ison saw the shark in the vicinity and raised the alarm while surfing with his friend Geoff Hill, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay told the AP.
"They then proceeded to try to paddle in from the ocean and ... it appears the shark has then attacked the 52-year-old and has bitten him on the left-hand side," Lindsay reportedly said. “He actually fought off the shark, we’re told, and has made it to shore with the help of that other surfer and passers-by.”
A bull shark was suspected of being responsible for the attack, Ernie Bennett, the mayor of Richmond Valley Council, which includes Evans Head, told the AP.
Ison’s friend Hill described the attack as "watching the Mick Fanning episode in replay," referring to the internationally broadcast video of Australian three-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning, who was attacked by a shark during a competition in South Africa earlier this month, but managed to return safely after punching the shark.
"The white board went up in the air; the tail was thrashing around," Hill told Australian Broadcasting Corporation, according to the AP.
Sharks are common off Australia’s beaches, but fatal attacks are rare.
Last Saturday, recreational diver Damian Johnson reportedly became the second victim of a fatal shark attack in Australia this year. The attack took place in front of the 46-year-old’s daughter, who raised an alarm and alerted fishermen in the area who reached to offer assistance. The incident took place at Lachlan Point off Maria Island.