A man has been airlifted to the hospital after being bitten by a shark off the coast of New South Wales in Australia, according to local police.
Police said in a statement Sunday that emergency services were called to Byron Bay around 6:40 a.m. local time, after reports that a man surfing near Belongil Beach was bitten on the leg by a shark.
The 41-year-old local man returned to shore on his board and alerted other surfers, police said.
He was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics, before being airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital in serious but stable condition, the statement said.
Belongil Beach and Main Beach have been closed for 24 hours.
Third shark attack of the year
Australia’s national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that the victim’s housemate had been surfing with him when the attack took place.
It quoted the housemate as saying the pair had paddled back to shore together.
“We didn’t realize until we were on the beach that there was a big chunk taken out of his leg so there was a lot of blood,” he told the ABC.
The housemate told the broadcaster he and other bystanders used leg ropes – used to attach surfers to their boards – to make a tourniquet around the man’s leg.
A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Primary Industry told the ABC that scientists believe a juvenile great white shark may have attacked the man.
The Taronga Conservation Society Australia says there were 27 shark attacks in Australia last year, one of them fatal. Nine of the attacks took place in New South Wales, according to its Australian Shark Attack File.
Before Sunday’s attack, the society had recorded two attacks so far this year, both of which took place in Queensland, the state bordering New South Wales to the north.