A 65-year-old Australian surfer managed to escape with foot and arm injuries after a great white shark attacked him off Australia's east coast on Thursday. Reports said he is in a stable condition now. "The surfer received puncture wounds to his foot and his arm," New South Wales state police told AFP.
The Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries tweeted that "specialists have confirmed the shark involved in an incident off Booti Booti National Park this morning was a white shark".
Colin Rowland was surfing at Seven Mile Beach, near Forster, 300km north of Sydney when he is believed to be attacked by a shark measuring up to 3.5 metres at about 9.10 am. The Newcastle Herald reported with several pictures that showed a large chunk was bitten out of his surfboard, which was also snapped in half.
Graham Nickerson, a Westpac rescue helicopter crewman, said the veteran surfer told him that he was with his friends when the shark hit him from underneath. "Apparently the shark came up under his board, snapped his board in two and then dragged him under by the leg rope,"
Nickerson said. "He's quite happy... considering what he's been through, but he's got pretty severe lacerations to his lower limbs, but he's in a stable condition," he added. Nickerson also said the surfer was already thinking of returning to the ocean.
Rowland appeared to be in high spirits when he arrived as he was seen laughing with the medical crew. He also gave the thumbs up as he was wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher.
The authorities have closed the Seven Mile Beach until further notice. This shark attack is the latest off the New South Wales coast in recent months. Experts said shark attacks are increasing day by day as water sports are becoming more popular and bait fish move closer to shore. However, fatalities remain rare.
Just a few weeks ago, a surfer escaped with cuts to his leg in the water near Byron Bay, a popular tourist spot. Another attack took place on September 26, when a 17-year-old boy Cooper Allen was attacked by a shark while he was surfing at Lighthouse Beach in Ballina.