An Australian man swam to shore and walked 300 metres to get help after suffering “extraordinary” injuries in a shark attack, in a story of survival paramedics have described as “remarkable”.
The 29-year-old man was badly bitten by the shark while surfing in D’Estrees Bay off Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Paramedic Michael Rushby said that the surfer had “serious” lacerations on his back, backside and leg “consistent with quite a large shark bite”.
Mr. Rushby said it was “remarkable” that the man had managed to swim to shore and walk to the car park to get help. “He told me he swam back to the beach by himself… then he had to walk 300 meters to the parking lot where he was able to get some help from bystanders. With the extent of his injuries, this was quite remarkable.”-
An off-duty paramedic who was nearby rushed to the beach in his own car to treat the victim, who received further treatment at the scene from Mr Rusby and another paramedic who came by ambulance before being taken to Flinders Medical Centre.
“We stabilised him on the side of the road, treated his injuries and managed his pain,” Mr Rushby said. “The young man sustained serious lacerations and this was to his back, his backside and his thigh. These injuries were consistent with quite a large shark bite.”
The surfer wrote a note describing his experience and thanking the paramedics and medical staff who saved him, which has been shared on social media.
“I was sitting on my board when I felt a hit on my left side,” he wrote. “It was like being hit by a truck.
“It bit me around my back, buttock and elbow, and took a chunk out of my board. I got a glimpse of the shark as it let go and disappeared.”
Mr Rushby said that despite his injuries the man remained conscious and spoke with the paramedics as they treated him.
“He was able to hold a conversation from the time I met him to the time I handed him over. He was doing well, he was able to recall the event, and was able to hold a conversation which was good and reassuring.”
In hospital, the shark attack victim said he was “incredibly lucky” and “optimistic” that he would “make a full recovery”.
Eight people have been killed in shark attacks in Australia this year, a sharp increase on the two fatal attacks in the previous three years combined.
Climate change has been identified as a possible factor for increased shark activity.
While great white sharks are not dependent on water temperature, most of the species they hunt are, and as their prey migrates closer to shore, the great whites follow.
Daryl McPhee, Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Bond University, told The New Daily after the most recent fatal attack that increasing human marine activity was also a factor.