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Melbourne - An Australian surfer has narrowly escaped being mauled by a great white shark, reports said on Thursday, after it bit into the bottom of his board and sent him flying into the air.
Andrew McLeod was surfing on the Elliston Bar off the west coast of South Australia with two other friends on Wednesday morning when a shark rammed his board.
“Out of nowhere a massive impact like a car crash came from underneath me,” McLeod told Australia's Seven television network.
He said the shark, which he described as a 4.5m great white, flung him into the water and left two large bite marks on his board.
McLeod's friend Tyrone Swan, who witnessed the attack, said the 35-year-old managed to scramble back onto his board and make it to shore.
“He was ridiculously lucky, he should definitely not be here,” Swan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“If his legs were down he would have been killed, if he had a smaller board he would have been killed, if he was hanging off his board he would have been killed.”
McLeod said while the close encounter would not put him off surfing, he might choose a different spot next time.
Elliston, a coastal town 640km west of Adelaide, is near the site of a fatal attack in 2000 when Jevan Wright, 17, was taken by a shark while surfing at Blackfellows Point.
Experts say attacks by sharks, which are common in Australian waters, are increasing as the population rises and water sports become more popular.
Last month, 63-year-old swimmer Christine Armstrong was killed by a shark off Tathra beach, about 350km south of Sydney. Only her swimming cap and goggles were found.
Western Australia embarked on a controversial cull policy this year, catching more than 170 sharks, after a spate of attacks. While some of the biggest sharks were destroyed, most were tagged and released. - AFP