Surfer fights off 16ft shark

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The Independent Online

Josh Berris, 26, suffered cuts to his legs when he was attacked while surfing with friends off a remote beach on Kangaroo Island, South Australia yesterday. He managed to push the 16ft (5 metre) shark away before his four friends dragged him to onto rocks and gave him first aid. Two of the friends then climbed the steep cliffs that surround the beach to find help.

Paramedics said that Mr Berris, an Australian, was airlifted to hospital in Adelaide, where he underwent surgery on his legs. One of the paramedics told ABC News: "[Mr Berris] was just sitting on the board waiting for the next wave and the shark just hit him from underneath. It took his board and was dragging him and he had to pull his leg rope off to get away from it. It came back again so he put his hand in its mouth to push it away."

Lee Francis, a spokesman for the South Australia ambulance service, said: "He is very lucky to be alive. It could have been a fatal attack if it wasn't for the quick thinking of his friends."

Great white sharks are a protected species, but a spate of recent attacks in Australia has led to calls for a cull. South Australia is particularly notorious for great whites.

Earlier this month, Jake Heron suffered cuts to his arm and leg after a great white attacked him and bit his surfboard in two. Mr Heron, 40, had been surfing near the fishing town of Port Lincoln, 170 miles west of Adelaide, when the shark attacked. He punched the 13ft shark before a wave swept him to safety.

Last month, a marine biologist, Jarrod Stehbens, 23, was killed by a great white shark as he dived for cuttlefish eggs off a beach near Adelaide.

Last December, an 18-year-old surfer, Nick Peterson, died after being attacked by a great white off Adelaide. It was the fifth fatal attack in the region in the past five years.

The attacks have prompted the authorities in South Australia to provide a rescue helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft that will patrol the coastline in the coming summer season.

Australia's first documented shark attack was in 1791 and there have been about 630 attacks in the past 200 years, about 190 of them fatal.