January 12, 2009

Snorkeler punches shark, survives attack

An Australian snorkeler who punched a shark that attacked him south of Sydney was in stable condition Monday, doctors said.

Steve Fogarty, 24, had his lower leg ripped in a midmorning Monday attack off the south coast of New South Wales by what is believed to have been a bull shark, officials said.

The country's beaches are on high alert and several stretches of coast have been closed after a spate of savage shark attacks and many other shark sightings.

Fogarty punched this brown shadow and it let go, New South Wales ambulance spokeswoman Fiona Kruit said.

He has 40-odd puncture wounds to his calf, but they haven't caused any muscle or tissue damage, and he's got some abrasions to his right fist where he's punched the shark.

I think I got one on him, Fogarty told Britain's Burnley Express.

Bull sharks are notoriously aggressive and are blamed for several attacks on humans and animals, mostly dogs, in Australia over the past few years, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The fish are common worldwide in warm, shallow waters along coasts and in rivers.

Fogarty was snorkeling at the mouth of the Illawarra River south of Sydney when the shark bit him.

The attack follows two other attacks along Australian beaches Sunday.