A surfer has come to the rescue of a woman being mauled by a great white shark near Port Macquarie, jumping on the beast and punching it repeatedly until it let her go.
Paramedics were called to Shelly Beach on NSW's mid-north coast about 9:30am on Saturday, after the woman was attacked while surfing.
The 35-year-old was rushed to Port Macquarie Base Hospital with serious leg injuries, but has since been flown to Newcastle where she will undergo surgery.
Police said the woman and a man were surfing when she was bitten on the right calf and the back of her thigh.
Her companion was forced to punch the 2-3 metre juvenile white shark until it let go.
"The shark wouldn't release her and so a nearby surfer paddled over and essentially jumped on the shark and started hitting it to make it release," Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce told AAP.
A surfer himself, Mr Pearce says it was a "tremendous act of bravery".
"We've had some really serious and tragic shark encounters over the past couple of months along the NSW coastline so to paddle out of your own safety zone, in to an area where you know there is a large shark, I think is amazing."
Mr Pearce is urging swimmers and surfers to be "shark smart" as summer approaches, but says the number of daylight attacks in recent times concerns him.
"As we've seen this morning, there are occasions where people can be shark smart and they think they're doing all the right things, but unfortunately, they're just in that wrong place at the wrong time."
The bystanders on scene that rendered assistance should be commended. They did an amazing job before we arrived.NSW Ambulance spokesperson
Three Ambulance NSW crews, a specialist medical team via the Westpac Rescue Helicopter along with one inspector were dispatched to the job.
"This is the third serious shark attack on the north coast over the last few months," Inspector Andrew Beverley, duty operations manager for Ambulance NSW, said.
"The patient suffered severe lacerations to her right leg."
Paramedics were on scene within eight minutes.
"The bystanders on scene that rendered assistance should be commended. They did an amazing job before we arrived," Insp Beverley said.
The patient was taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital in a stable condition with serious lower leg injuries.
The helicopter met crews at Port Macquarie Hospital with the Helicopter Critical Care Medical Team on board. She was flown to John Hunter Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
All beaches in Port Macquarie were closed by ALS Lifeguards and surfing and swimming was not advised for the remainder of the day.
Surf Life Saving NSW is providing coastal surveillance of the area using UAVs (drones), jetskis and inflatable rescue boats (IRBs) to help spot the shark and assist the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Steven Pearce, CEO of Surf Life Saving NSW praised the efforts of the surfers who came to the aid of the woman and said that surf lifesavers and lifeguards on duty had responded quickly to close beaches in the area.
"Our thoughts are with the young lady who was injured. We'd like to praise her fellow surfers who came to her aid so quickly," Mr Pearce said.
"Our lifesavers and lifeguards moved quickly to close beaches in the area and are now working closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries to monitor the area to ensure there are no longer sharks in the vicinity."
It is the third attack on the Mid North Coast in five months.
In April, a woman suffered serious lacerations to her foot after being bitten by a shark at Crescent Head.
In July, a 15-year-old boy tragically died after a shark attack off Wooli Beach, north of Coffs Harbour.
He was surfing with friends when he was mauled by a shark, suffering critical leg injuries. He died at the scene.
- with AAP