x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 November 2017

British novice surfer punches shark on the snout to escape

The attack off the Australian coast left Charlie Fry with superficial puncture wounds on his right shoulder and upper arm

A novice surfer mastered a professional's move on his first try: He punched a shark on the snout to escape its jaws.

The attack on Monday afternoon off the coast of New South Wales, Australia, left Charlie Fry with superficial puncture wounds on his right shoulder and upper arm.

A British doctor who arrived in Australia two months ago to work, Dr Fry said on Tuesday he had recently watched a YouTube video in which Australian professional surfer Mick Fanning described his escape from a great white during a surfing competition in 2015.

"So when it happened, I was like: 'Just do what Mick did. Just punch it in the nose,'" Dr Fry said.

"So Mick, if you're watching or listening, I owe you … Thank you very much."

Dr Fry, a 25-year-old beginner - who are referred to as 'shark biscuits' in some surfing circles - was in the water with three friends when he was attacked off Avoca Beach, 90 kilometres north of Sydney.

"I was out surfing and I got this massive thud on my right-hand side; it completely blindsided me," Dr Fry said.

"I thought it was a friend goofing around. I turned and I saw this shark come out of the water and breach its head," he said.

"So I just punched it in the face with my left hand and then managed to scramble back on my board, shout at my friends, and luckily a wave came, so I just sort of surfed the wave in."

Read more: Professional surfer fights off shark attack during competition on live television

Dr Fry said he was not conscious of his injured and bleeding arm until he reached the shore.

"I didn't really notice it at the time because when you're surfing, all I'm thinking was: 'I'm about to die. I'm literally about to die'."

"So I thought … 'get in as fast as possible, ride the wave for as long as you can and then just start paddling for your life'," he said.

Dr Fry's friends drove him to Gosford Hospital, where they worked, to be treated. The beach was closed for 24 hours.

Lifeguards spotted the three-metre shark that attacked Dr Fry close to shore and would use drones on Tuesday to check that it had left the area, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Dr Fry said he could not return to the ocean for a week because of his injuries, but "after then, I'll be racing to get back in".

Fanning was competing at the J-Bay Open in South Africa two years ago when he was knocked off his board by a shark and escaped unscathed. The video of the attack and Fanning speaking about it has been viewed more than 24 million times on YouTube.