A SURFER who witnessed a shark mauling a woman's leg in an attack off Shelly Beach, Port Macquarie has repeatedly punched the animal until it released its grip.
His swift, and incredibly brave response, has no doubt saved the woman's life.
The 35-year-old woman suffered severe lacerations to her leg in the attack on Saturday morning (August 15) at about 9.30am.
The woman was bitten on the right calf and thigh and was able to make it back to shore with the help of a fellow surfer, where she received assistance from bystanders until emergency services arrived.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said the species of shark responsible for the attack is a juvenile White Shark approximately 2-3 metres in length.
Three Ambulance NSW crews, a specialist medical team via the Westpac Rescue Helicopter along with one inspector were dispatched to the job.
"This is the third serious shark attack on the north coast over the last few months," Inspector Andrew Beverley, duty operations manager for Ambulance NSW, said.
"The patient suffered severe lacerations to her right leg."
Paramedics were on scene within eight minutes.
The bystanders on scene that rendered assistance should be commended. They did an amazing job before we arrived.Inspector Andrew Beverley, duty operations manager for Ambulance NSW
"The bystanders on scene that rendered assistance should be commended. They did an amazing job before we arrived," Insp Beverley said.
The patient was taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital in a stable condition with serious lower leg injuries.
The helicopter met crews at Port Macquarie Hospital with the Helicopter Critical Care Medical Team on board. She was flown to John Hunter Hospital in a serious but stable condition and will undergo surgery for her injuries.
All beaches in Port Macquarie were closed by ALS Lifeguards and surfing and swimming was not advised for the remainder of the day.
Surf Life Saving NSW is providing coastal surveillance of the area using UAVs (drones), jetskis and inflatable rescue boats (IRBs) to help spot the shark and assist the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Steven Pearce, CEO of Surf Life Saving NSW praised the efforts of the surfers who came to the aid of the woman and said that surf lifesavers and lifeguards on duty had responded quickly to close beaches in the area.
"Our thoughts are with the young lady who was injured. We'd like to praise her fellow surfers who came to her aid so quickly," Mr Pearce said.
"Our lifesavers and lifeguards moved quickly to close beaches in the area and are now working closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries to monitor the area to ensure there are no longer sharks in the vicinity."
It is the third attack on the Mid North Coast in five months.
In April, a woman suffered serious lacerations to her foot after being bitten by a shark at Crescent Head.
In July, a 15-year-old boy tragically died after a shark attack off Wooli Beach, north of Coffs Harbour.
He was surfing with friends when he was mauled by a shark, suffering critical leg injuries. He died at the scene.