A British doctor who was surfing in Australia when he was attacked by a shark says he managed to escape by punching it in the face.
Charlie Fry, 25, was surfing at Avoca Beach, around 60 miles north of Sydney, on Monday with four friends when the shark—which he said was between five and six feet long—attacked him.
“The shark came from my right hand side, it just went for my shoulder, got a big thud, and then I turned to the right and I saw a shark’s head come out of the water with its teeth and I just punched it in the face,” Fry, who has been living in Australia for two months and working as an emergency department doctor as a hospital, told Australia’s Nine News.
"And then got back on my board, shouted at my friends who were there, and then managed to catch a wave in. So yeah, it was a bit of a close call!”
Fry did not escape the encounter unscathed: the shark left scratches and a small puncture wound on his arm. He received treatment in hospital following the incident and has been discharged.
The medic said that he feared for his life during the incident but was focused on staying alive.
“My brother asked me who did I think of at the time, and I was like ‘No one.’ I literally thought of no one, I thought of trying to not die!” said Fry.
Fry had been swimming about 20 meters offshore when the attack happened. Lifeguards suspected that the shark had been attracted towards the surfer by a combination of warm water, a lot of fish nearby and Fry’s location in a deep channel.
The attack bore similarities to a famous incident in 2015, when Australian surfer Mick Fanning was approached by two sharks while sitting on his surfboard during a competition in South Africa. Fanning, who managed to escape injury, said he managed to punch one of the sharks in its back before being rescued by officials on jet skis. The incident was caught on camera.
Several beaches in the region, including Avoca Beach, will remain closed until 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
Following the attack on Fry, a helicopter rescue service photographed what it described as a “three-meter shark, probably [a] bronze whaler,” in the surf zone at Avoca Beach.
As of November 1, there have been 18 shark attacks in Australia in 2017, with only one fatality, according to the Australian Shark Attack File. Fatal shark attacks are relatively rare, with only about two per year occurring in Australia.
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