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Hawaii surfer says he was lucky to survive horror shark attack

Published 25/10/2016

Surfer Federico Jaime poses for a photo in his hospital bed in Wailuku, Hawaii, after the shark attack (Kari Feinstein/AP)
Surfer Federico Jaime poses for a photo in his hospital bed in Wailuku, Hawaii, after the shark attack (Kari Feinstein/AP)

Surfer Federico Jaime has told how he fought back when he was attacked by a shark at a Hawaii beach causing him serious injuries.

The 36-year-old said he was grateful to be recovering in hospital - even though the attack forced him and his wife to postpone their honeymoon.

It was the second shark attack in the US in a fortnight, while there have been three in Australia's New South Wales state in a month.

Mr Jaime was surfing on Friday at a beach close to his Paia home when he felt a shark bite his left arm, he recalled on Monday from his Maui hospital bed.

"It just came out of nowhere," he said. "I saw the shark right in my face. It grabbed my arm- my left arm. It was really violent."

He knew he had been bitten: "I could see my arm was pretty much destroyed. I hit it with my hands and my legs. I don't know what I did."

Then, he said, he felt something pull on his left leg. At the time, he did not realise the shark had bit him a second time.

Mr Jaime, who had planned to leave for a Tahiti honeymoon on Saturday, started screaming. Nearby surfers helped get him to shore. One of them used a surfboard leash as a tourniquet.

Professional surfer Matt Meola was on the beach when he saw the surfers suddenly paddle toward Mr Jaime, who he recognised as a regular at Hookipa Beach Park.

He said: "I just ran down with my phone. I saw that he was probably going to survive. I probably wouldn't have filmed if he was dying. But I thought he was going to be OK so I started filming."

He continued filming as Mr Jaime calmly rinsed in a shower before paramedics arrived "freakishly fast" and whisked him into an ambulance.

"He was pretty excited to see the footage I got," Mr Meola said.

Mr Jaime said with a laugh that he watched it "a thousand times" adding: "I'm really lucky. I'm super positive."

The reef shark bit Jaime when he was about 50 yards from shore at a surf spot known as "H-Poko".

Mr Jaime said he knows that October accounts for the greatest number of Hawaii shark bites.

University of Hawaii researchers say this may be because female tiger sharks migrate south from the Hawaiian Islands to give birth. An influx of hungry pupping sharks may boost the likelihood of a bad encounter with a human.

The attack will not diminish his passion for surfing, said Mr Jaime, who moved to Maui from Argentina about six years ago.

After three hours of surgery on Friday, he can move all his fingers and can feel his forearm muscle working. But he will need another operation on Wednesday to repair a tendon.

He and his wife - married for about a year - will go on their honeymoon when he is feeling better.

Two weeks ago a shark attacked surfer Joseph Tanner off the Oregon coast, but he survived after swimming to shore and instructing others how to tie a tourniquet around his injured leg.

A surfer suffered a thigh injury when he was bitten by a shark at Byron Bay in New South Wales on Monday, close to Ballina where another man was attacked on October 12.

A third surfer was bitten by a shark at Ballina on September 26, while a Japanese man was killed there last year.

AP

Press Association

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