Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Australian man fights off shark, continues surfing

AP , CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA

A surfer fought off a 2m shark with his board at an Australian beach yesterday -- then continued surfing, a life guard said.

The surfer, Simon Letch, returned to Sydney's Bronte Beach 30 minutes after surviving the attack with a replacement board, despite the beach being closed because of the danger, life guard Aaron Graham said.

"He was pretty calm about it, very laid back," said Graham, who was on the beach when the surfer, aged in his 30s, rode his damaged board in.

Letch was among a small group of surfers sitting on their boards about 30m offshore at dawn when the shark attacked, Graham said.

"He jumped off the back and pushed the board toward the shark, keeping it between them," Graham said.

The shark took two bites of the fiberglass board before ceasing the attack, Graham told reporters by telephone. "There were two big puncture mark bites on the board, but it didn't actually bite a hunk out of it, so he was able to ride it in."

The species of the shark wasn't known.

Last month, a 6m great white shark tore a man in half, killing him instantly as he snorkeled off Australia's west coast.

That was the first fatality in Australian waters since last December, when an 18-year-old surfer was bitten in half by a 5m great white off a beach in the southern city of Adelaide.

A week earlier, a shark killed a 38-year-old diver spear fishing on the Great Barrier Reef off northeast Australia.

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