By the Associated Press
PERTH, Australia — A surfer mauled by a shark Monday off southwest Australia managed to swim to shore despite serious injuries to both of his legs, an official and a witness said.
The man was surfing at Gracetown around 8 a.m. when he was attacked, St. John Ambulance spokesman Dennis Bertoldo said. He was treated on the beach by paramedics before he was flown by helicopter 250 kilometers (160 miles) to a hospital in the city of Perth, Bertoldo said.
The hospital described the victim’s condition as stable. He is in his 30s.
The attack prompted the World Surf League to postpone the nearby Margaret River Pro international surfing contest.
Surf photographer Peter Jovic watched the attack from the beach and likened it to the live broadcast of a shark attack in South Africa in 2015. Former champion surfer Mick Fanning escaped unscathed when a great white attacked his board as he waited to catch a wave.
“If anyone is familiar with the Mick Fanning moment … it was very similar to that, where a shark pretty much popped up and ended up knocking a surfer off his board,” Jovic told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
“The surfer who was being attacked ended up miraculously body surfing into a little wave and getting pushed in by a local at the same time, who was out there with him, and making it to shore before everyone came to his aid,” Jovic added.
Lifeguards said a 4-meter (13-foot) shark was spotted off a nearby beach two hours after the attack.
A surfer was killed by a shark at Gracetown in 2013.