THE surfer bitten by a great white shark south of Forster says it was his first encounter with a shark in 54 years of surfing.
Colin Rowland, 62, was bitten on the foot by the shark, estimated at up to 3.5 metres long, at Bulls Paddock, near the Booti Booti National Park, on Thursday morning.
Mr Rowland had been surfing with mates when the shark has struck him from underneath, snapping his board in two.
“He said: “I have been surfing for 54 years and this is the first time I have even seen a shark, so I am pretty lucky’’,’’ Hunter Westpac rescue helicopter crewman Graham Nickisson said.
“He said he never saw it until it came back and took a chomp out of the board and then dragged him under.
“That is obviously how he got the puncture wounds on his foot.’’
Mr Rowland has told rescuers that he was dragged underwater with his leg rope before being able to fight free.
As he was being wheeled into John Hunter Hospital for treatment, Mr Rowland told media crews: “I’m a bit out of it but I am alive, that is the main thing’’.
Mr Rowland, believed to be from Forster, was on a break near the Ruins campground known as Bulls Paddock, at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, when he was attacked about 9.10am.
Police said he swam to shore at Seven Mile beach after the incident, which has closed the surf until further notice.
His surfboard was snapped in half on impact with a large chunk bitten off.
The shark is believed to be a great white and was estimated at between 2.5m and 3.5m long.
Mr Rowland was taken to Pacific Palms Bowling Club to meet up with the rescue helicopter before being flown to John Hunter Hospital.
Manning Great Lakes police are working with officers from Department of Primary Industries at the scene.
Coastalwatch has reported that the attack happened at a place the locals call Bulls Paddock, which is at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach.
“Sharks are regularly seen in the area but there hasn’t been an attack at Bulls Paddock before,’’ Coastalwatch said.
More to come