An Australian surfer struck a great white shark repeatedly to save his companion, who was attacked by the animal in New South Wales.
New South Wales Police said the 35-year-old was surfing on a Chilean beach in Port Macquarie in the morning when the attack happened. The shark bit her on the calf of the right calf, then on the back of her thigh.
Since then, the shark has been identified as a small white shark, about two to three meters (about 6.5 to 9.8 feet) long, according to Surf Life Saving NSW, the group of rescuers that responded to the attack.
The surfer hit the shark repeatedly until it released the woman’s leg. Surf Life Saving NSW said in a statement that it then helped her out of the water to shore, as an ambulance and emergency vehicle was waiting for her.
Medics treated her injuries at the scene, then airlifted her to hospital for surgery. She is in a serious condition but stable.
“Our thoughts are with the young woman who was injured in a shark attack this morning.” Stephen Pierce, CEO of Surf Life Saving NSW, said in the statement, “We would like to commend her fellow surfers who came to her aid very quickly.”
“Our lifeguards and rescuers moved quickly to close beaches in the area and are now working closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries to monitor the area to ensure there are no sharks in the vicinity.”
All beaches in the vicinity will be closed for at least 24 hours. Surf Life Saving NSW and other local authorities are monitoring the coasts with drones, jet skis and inflatable rescue boats to try to spot the shark.
“Passers-by on site who provided assistance should be commended,” said Inspector Andrew Beverly of NSW Ambulance, according to CNN’s Nine News. “They did a great job before we arrived.”
This is the third serious shark attack on the northern coast in recent months, Beverly said.
This summer saw a spate of shark attacks across Australia. In June, a surfer died after being bitten by a great white shark at the northernmost coast of New South Wales. July alone saw three shark attacks: a 15-year-old boy died while surfing in New South Wales, a 10-year-old boy was hospitalized after a shark pulled him from a boat off the coast of Tasmania, and a man died. In Queensland state after being bitten while spearfishing.
In April, a Queensland wildlife ranger was killed by a large white, and in January a 57-year-old diver died from a shark attack in Western Australia.
It’s a higher increase in accidents than we’ve seen in recent years; Australia saw no deaths from shark attacks in 2019 and only one in 2018, according to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.