Tuesday 25 October 2016

Surfer fights off shark with repeated punches less than week after fatal attack

Published 31/07/2015 | 07:34

An Australian surfer was badly injured after being attacked by a shark
An Australian surfer was badly injured after being attacked by a shark

A surfer was seriously injured as he repeatedly punched a shark that mauled him off the Australian east coast, less than a week after a fatal attack.

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Craig Ison, 52, had major wounds to his left leg and hand in the dawn attack at Evans Head, 340 miles north of Sydney. He was taken by ambulance to Lismore Base Hospital in serious but stable condition.

Mr Ison saw the shark and raised the alarm while surfing with his friend Geoff Hill, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay said.

"They then proceeded to try to paddle in from the ocean and it appears the shark has then attacked and bitten him on the left-hand side.

"He actually fought off the shark, we're told, and has made it to shore with the help of that other surfer and passers-by."

Beach walkers saved Mr Ison's life by using surfboard leg ropes as tourniquets to slow the bleeding before paramedics arrived. He underwent surgery later.

Ernie Bennett, mayor of Richmond Valley Council which includes Evans Head, said a bull shark was thought to have carried out the attack. It initially bit Mr Ison's hip and upper thigh and his hand and arm were slashed as he fought back.

Mr Hill said witnessing the attack was "like watching the Mick Fanning episode in replay", referring to the internationally-broadcast video of the professional surfer battling a shark during a competition in South Africa last week. Mr Fanning survived unscathed.

Read more: Daughter watched as father mauled to death by shark while diving

"The white board went up in the air; the tail was thrashing around," Mr Hill told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr Hill said before he could go to his friend's aid, Mr Ison was back on his board and paddling for the shore.

"He got in a couple of punches. He told us that when we were trying to give him first aid," Mr Hill said.

Beaches around Evans Head were closed for 24 hours following the attack.

In a similar attack last Saturday off the island state of Tasmania, recreational diver Damian Johnson, 46, became the second victim of a fatal shark attack in Australia this year when he was mauled by a suspected great white.

Ballina was the scene of two recent shark attacks in which 32-year-old surfer Matt Lee was critically injured on July 2 and Japanese tourist Tadashi Nakahara, 41, was mauled to death while surfing in February.

Ballina is 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) north of the scene of last week's fatal attack.

A day after Mr Lee was attacked, a shark bit a surfboard, knocking its rider into the sea six miles north of Ballina at Lennox Head. The surfer was not injured.

Mr Bennett said mayors in the region were meeting in Ballina on Friday to discuss strategies to cope with the growing shark menace.

Sharks are common off Australia's beaches, but fatal attacks are rare. The country has averaged fewer than two deadly attacks per year in recent decades.

Press Association

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