Fri, Jan 20, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Australian surfer survives ‘Jaws’-like shark attack

CIRCLING:The victim managed to shake himself free and paddle back to shore, with the help of fellow surfers, trailing blood as the shark circled

AFP, SYDNEY

An Australian surfer was recovering yesterday after being dragged under the water by a shark that sliced his leg open then circled him as he screamed for help in a scene witnesses said was “like Jaws.

Tattoo artist Glen Folkard, 44, was catching waves off Redhead Beach when a 2m shark attacked on Wednesday afternoon in front of dozens of stunned swimmers.

Witnesses said the animal took a large chunk out of Folkard’s thigh as well as his board before dragging him under.

He managed to shake himself free and with the help of fellow surfers paddled back to shore trailing blood as the shark circled. He was then taken to hospital where on yesterday he was stable after surgery.

“It was kind of like Jaws, you know, the scene at the start ... where everybody’s pulled out of the water and it’s a hot day and the water’s inviting,” a witness, named only as Peter, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“My son actually said he saw the shark leap out of the water and grab a fish. The word is it was a bull shark,” Peter said. “His [Folkard’s] skin was really grey, he obviously lost quite a lot of blood.”

Bull sharks are a medium-sized species known for their aggression and tendency to attack humans.

Around 500 people were on the popular family beach at the time, with about 100 in the water, reports said.

Another witness, Tony James, said: “It’s just hit him and took him under for a bit. He’s managed to get to the surface, but I saw it start to follow him.”

Rescue helicopters began air patrols after the attack and spotted several large groups of sharks nearby with beaches in the area closed.

However, they reopened less than 24 hours later, although jet ski and helicopter patrols were continuing, as the schools of baitfish that are thought to have drawn the sharks close to shore moved further out to sea.

Meanwhile on the west coast, a 26-year-old tour operator was bitten yesterday by what the West Australian newspaper said was a tiger shark as he snorkled near Coral Bay township.

Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) spokeswoman Joanne Hill said a crew was flying from Port Hedland to attend to him.

“A RFDS doctor is yet to assess the patient but he is believed to have a bite mark to his arm,” she said.

“The injury is not life threatening and he is believed to be in a stable condition,” she said.

The man is likely to be flown to Perth for further treatment.

Sharks are a common feature of Australian waters and there have been a string of sightings along coast this summer.

However, fatal attacks are rare in Australia, with just 27 people killed in the past 22 years.

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