Surfer survives shark attack off remote Australian beach
A surfer has been savaged by a shark off a remote west Australian beach in the sixth serious incident in the state in less than a year, with witnesses on Wednesday telling of water “full of blood”.
The man, reported to be in his 30s, was bitten on the abdomen and suffered severe injuries to his right arm while trying to fend off the shark at far-flung Red Bluff – a popular surf spot about 600 miles north of Perth.
A fellow surfer dragged the man onto his board and brought him ashore after Tuesday afternoon’s attack, with witnesses recounting gruesome scenes.
“The water was full of blood,” said local woman Rebecca Caldwell.
The man was wrapped in towels to stem blood loss and driven almost two hours down unsealed roads to a waiting ambulance, according to Caldwell’s husband Jim, the local campground manager.
“We were keeping him talking, that was the main thing, to keep him coherent,” Caldwell told The West Australian newspaper, describing the victim as “tough as nails”.
“It was all about keeping the pressure on, the blood loss was our biggest concern.”
It is the sixth serious attack off Australia’s west coast in less than a year, with a fatality north of Perth last month – the fifth in less than 12 months – renewing debate about whether great whites should remain protected.
Most fatal attacks in the region involve great whites, among the largest shark species in the world and made famous by the horror movie “Jaws”.
Western Australia Fisheries spokesman Tony Cappelluti told ABC radio it was “very difficult to speculate” what kind of shark it was in the latest attack, with tiger sharks “fairly prevalent” in the area but great whites also present.
Cappelluti said the beach was closed but due to its remoteness authorities were not likely to hunt the shark in question, with “resources a bit thin up there”.
SURFER STABLE AFTER ATTACK
Mr Hines is in a stable condition in RPH after arriving on Tuesday night on a Royal Flying Doctor Service flight from Carnarvon.
He had been staying at nearby Gnaraloo Station, a popular and remote fishing and surfing location.
A RPH spokeswoman confirmed Mr Hines would undergo surgery today for the injuries inflicted by the shark.
Initial reports from police suggested he had sustained leg and abdominal injuries but was conscious, however it emerged he was bitten on the abdomen and suffered serious wounds to his right arm as he tried to fend off the shark.
He was first taken to Carnarvon Hospital where he underwent preliminary medical assessment.
EYEWITNESS DESCRIBES RESCUE
One eye-witness told ABC Radio that her children had helped carry the injured man from the water in the wake of the attack but no one in the ocean appeared to have seen the incident unfold.
“The water was full of blood, that’s about it,” the woman told the ABC.
“He was conscious the whole way back though, he was OK. He was in good spirits, as well as he could be.”
Department of Fisheries regional manager Tony Cappelluti said that while the man’s injuries were serious, they were not life-threatening.
“The surfer was attacked by the shark, was bitten on the abdomen somewhere, tried to fend off the shark. The shark has then bitten him on the arm and he’s got some fairly serious arm injuries,” Mr Cappelluti said.
Tiger sharks were fairly prevalent in the area but so were tropical species, and neither was it unusual for great whites to be present that far north, Mr Capelluti said.
There had been no recent shark sighting reports at Red Bluff, an extremely remote area of the WA coastline that was well frequented by surfers.
“It’s a popular surf area, huge waves and a very, very pristine area,” Mr Cappelluti said.
“We are not aware of any reports of shark sightings in the area. It’s a fairly remote location, frequented by surfers all year round. It’s quite isolated, very pristine.”
In July, Ben Linden, 24, became WA’s fifth fatal shark attack victim in just 10 months when he was attacked at Wedge Island, north of Perth.
A talented musician and cabinetmaker by trade, he was taken by a 4m white pointer about 9am on July 14.
In April 2011, a teenager was bitten after trying to feed a 1m reef shark with the carcass of a fish he had just cleaned on a beach near Red Bluff, about 140km north of Carnarvon.
The teen spent the night at a local hospital but was later flown to Perth for specialist treatment.