Shark attack halts Australian surfing competition

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A shark attack on a surfer in Australia has forced the temporary suspension of an international surfing competition.

The victim, a man in his 30s, was bitten on the leg by a shark off Gracetown in Western Australia on Monday morning.

He managed to paddle back to shore and a rescue helicopter ferried him to hospital.

Surf photographer Peter Jovic told the ABC news he had witnessed the attack.

“[I] saw the guy who had been attacked get separated from the [surf] board and then start to paddle for an inside wave, which he managed to body surf all the way in,” he said.

“They got him to shore and started working on him to stem the bleeding.”

The man was reported to be in a stable condition.

“He is conscious and breathing and being treated for leg injuries,” St John Ambulance said in a tweet.

The attack forced an international surfing competition nearby, the World Surf League’s (WSL) Margaret River Pro 2018, to be put on hold.

“We have been alerted of a shark incident that occurred near Gracetown,” the WSL said in a tweet. “The safety of our surfers and staff is a top priority.”

The WSL later said the competition, which forms part of the WSL’s World Championship Tour and features top ranked surfers, was back up and running.

“After an hour hold, the #MargiesPro is back on with enhanced safety measures, including ski and drone presence in the line-up,” it said in a tweet.

According to ABC, Hawaiian pro surfer John John Florence had a close shave with sharks while surfing in the area just before the competition.

He said that he had seen something in the water and a splash before he raced back to shore. He put a drone in the air whose footage revealed two large sharks.

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