A man has been bitten by a shark off the coast of Western Australia, prompting authorities to close down the nearby Margaret River Pro international surfing event.
The man, in his 30s, was flown to Royal Perth hospital with leg injuries, but was conscious, St John Ambulance said.
The incident was reported on the Surf Life Saving WA Twitter feed, which broadcasts reports of shark sightings, just before 9am local time.
The man was reportedly bitten while surfing at Gracetown, where the Margaret River Pro is held.
Event organisers put the competition on hold but have not said whether the victim was taking part in the competition.
“We have been alerted of a shark incident that occurred near Gracetown,” organisers said on Monday. “The #MargiesPro is on hold while we work with local authorities.
“The safety of our surfers and staff is a top priority. We have mitigation protocols in place and will be enhancing those when competition resumes.”
Surf photographer Peter Jovic told the ABC that the man body-surfed to the beach after a shark pushed him off his board.
“A shark popped up and pretty much ended up knocking a surfer from his board,” Jovic said. “There was a lot more thrashing around. After that it was hard to see what was going on.”
Jovic said he saw the man catch a wave “which he managed to body-surf all the way in”.
Friends used the rope from the victim’s board as a tourniquet and gave him first aid until emergency crews arrived from Margaret River within six minutes, AAP reported. The man was attended by ambulance officers and airlifted to the Royal Perth hospital, 265km away.
St John Ambulance said the man in his 30s was being treated for leg injuries.
The Department of Fisheries sent officers to investigate the incident. Under an agreement with the federal government, WA fisheries officers are authorised to kill sharks that are identified as causing an “serious threat” to human life, such as those involved in an attack.
The carcass of a beaked whale was discovered on a nearby beach. Whale carcasses have been known to attract sharks.
There have been three fatal shark attacks in the area since 2004, when Bradley Smith was fatally mauled by a great white. Chris Boyd, 35, was killed at nearby Umbies surf break in 2013. Nick Edwards, 31, also died after a shark attack while surfing at nearby South Point in 2010.
All three were surfers.