Surfer loses finger while fighting shark

5:32pm December 28, 2012
December 28, 2012: A young man has been savaged by a shark while surfing at a beach in the heart of the state's holiday coast, near Port Macquarie.

A surfer fought off a shark which bit his finger off in an attack which could force beaches on the NSW mid-north coast to be closed for up to 24 hours.

The 29-year-old was attacked near remote Diamond Head, south of Port Macquarie, on Friday morning by what is believed to be a bull shark.

A spokeswoman for Surf Life Saving said the man was on a paddle board when he was first bitten on the leg at around 10.45am (AEDT) and then on the hand as he tried to push the shark away.

He lost an index finger and suffered a gash to one thigh, while friends helped raise the alarm.

"I believe he was surfing with others, so one of his mates paddled in," the spokeswoman told AAP.

The surfer was still conscious when he was airlifted to Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital in a serious but stable condition and his injuries are not life-threatening.

Rescuers help a surfer who was attacked by a shark.
Rescuers help a surfer who was attacked by a shark.

The man's family thanked those who helped him out of the water.

"The family express their gratitude to all those who assisted at the beach, as well as the emergency personnel who gave such rapid assistance," they said in a statement.

The Forrest Beach man had been camping with family and friends, according to local Fairfax Media.

He was surfing when a pod of dolphins came through the waves, according to the Fairfax report, and he was attacked about 10 minutes later.

Adam Eady, from Crowdy Head Surf Life Saving Club, south of the attack site, said beaches from Crowdy Head north to Camden Haven had closed as a precaution and could remain closed for up to 24 hours.

The stretch of coastline where the surfer was attacked was unpatrolled and shark sightings in the area were rare, he said.

"At this time of year, it really is unusual for sharks to be around this close in," he said.

Surf Life Saving's state lifesaving manager, Dean Storey, said holiday-makers concerned about sharks should stick to swimming at patrolled beaches.

"That way lifesavers and lifeguards can clear the water in the event of a shark sighting and first aid support and equipment is immediately available," Mr Storey said.

A co-owner of the Diamond Beach Holiday Park said she had lived in the area for 10 years and never heard of a similar incident.

"There's been sightings of sharks but no attacks that we're aware of," Donna King told AAP.

Friday's attack follows an incident on the mid-north coast three weeks ago in which a diver suffered minor puncture wounds after a suspected grey nurse shark attack at South West Rocks, about 110 kilometres north of Diamond Head.

© AAP 2014
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