Australian bodyboarder survives bump from shark

SYDNEY (AFP) - A bodyboarder swimming close to shore survived a close encounter with a large shark Sunday (June 11) after being bumped by the marine predator off Western Australia.

The man, named by local media as Paul Goff, was reportedly just 50m off Point Casuarina in Bunbury in the morning when he was bumped off his board, the state's fisheries department said.

"The shark came up between me and the board and then went towards the board," Goff, who was not injured and able to return to shore, told commercial broadcaster Channel Seven.

"It's at that point that I saw its gills."

Photographs released by Western Australia Police showed a bodyboard with bite marks on one side.

The shark's size was not reported, but the fisheries department said witnesses described it as large, while Surf Life Saving WA said the creature was a great white.

Martin Lottering, who was in the look-out tower on the shore, said the shark's dorsel fin "looked about half the size of the bodyboard".

"I spent some time watching the guys in the water on their bodyboards, and eventually I noticed a swirling and thrashing in the water next to one of the guys," Lottering told Fairfax Media's WAtoday news website.

"The next moment I saw the shark's head come up out the water, and (it) looked like it was trying to grab one of the bodyboarders - and at the same time knocked him off the board.

"As soon as he was pushed off the board, the shark kept going for his board, which gave him time to swim out to the beach." Experts say shark attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore.

A 17-year-old girl died in April after being mauled by a shark in full view of her parents in Western Australia - the third person killed by the predators off the state in the past year.

A 29-year-old man died last June following an attack at Falcon Beach, near Mandurah, and in the same month a great white killed a 60-year-old woman near the state capital Perth.