A man is fighting for his life after a shark attack off a popular beach on the NSW Mid-North Coast.
The 44-year-old man, identified as Toby Begg, was surfing at Lighthouse Beach, south of Port Macquarie, when he was bitten by a shark on Friday morning.
NSW Police said Mr Begg tried to fight off the shark believed to have been at least 3.8m long.
A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said the man had suffered lower leg injuries and was rushed to Port Macquarie Base Hospital.
A teenage girl who witnessed the attack told 9News the man’s foot had been “ripped off” and he was “bleeding everywhere”.
“They were trying to talk to him, he was silent, he was frozen,” she told NBN.
“They tried to tie his leg with the leg rope from the surfboard and some sticks to keep it straight.”
NSW Police said he was helped to shore by other surfers “where a tourniquet was applied by witnesses”, including an off-duty doctor.
“The reports are the man has tried to fight this shark for up to 30 seconds and then has swum himself to shore where he’s realised that he’s sustained significant lower leg injuries,” Chief Inspector Martin Burke told reporters.
Tacking Point Surf Lifesaving Club, which manages Lighthouse Beach, announced about 11.30am on Friday the beach had been closed.
“Please be aware that Lighthouse Beach is currently closed due to a shark attack,” the club wrote on Facebook.
“Non-fatal (attack), thank goodness, but please stay out of the water.”
The nearby Port Macquarie Hastings ALS Lifeguards confirmed later the closure would likely stay in place for 24 hours.
“A Surf Life Saving NSW drone will be operating to try to determine the size and species of the shark involved,” lifeguards said.
A witness told radio station 2GB a group of men were surfing at the popular beach when a shark attacked them.
The witness said the shark tried to attack the group a second time as they paddled to shore.
The police said they would liaise with experts from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
The attack comes as shark nets divided the NSW parliament this week.
Premier Chris Minns confirmed nets would be redeployed across 51 beaches from September 1 until April 30, despite opposition from a united cross bench featuring the Liberal Party, Greens, Animal Justice, and other minor parties and independents.
However, Mr Minns said he would not be “rushed” into implementing alternative methods.
“This is an important decision and when it comes to the safety of people that recreate, surf and use city beaches, I need to make sure we’re completely satisfied towards the appropriate decision,” he said.
While Lighthouse Beach is not part of the state’s shark meshing program, it is monitored by two Shark Management-Alert-In-Real Time (SMART) drumlines.
The lines use bait to attack sharks, which then trigger a surveillance team to inspect the animal.