A young man has been airlifted from Bombo Beach after being bitten by a shark while surfing on Wednesday evening.
Shortly after 7pm a 22-year-old Kiama Downs man was surfing off the northern end of Bombo Beach, Lake Illawarra police said.
The man told police he was attacked in the water about 100 metres off shore but did not see the shark.
He was assisted to the beach by a friend – who heard him screaming after the injury – and emergency services were contacted.
Police from Lake Illawarra command responded along with paramedics, who treated the man for leg and hand injuries.
The ambulance rescue helicopter was flown from Bankstown to attend to the man, airlifting him to St George Hospital in a serious condition by about 8.40pm.
During the incident, one paramedic reported that he was “missing three quarters of his thigh”, and ambulance officers treated the man for pain and blood loss.
As the dramatic scene unfolded dozens of onlookers – mostly young men – gathered at the beach, visibily shaken by the evening’s events.
After the incident was reported, a number of Mercury readers said they had watched seagulls diving after bait fish at Bombo on Wednesday afternoon.
NSW Surf Life Saving spokeswoman Donna Wishart said “our recommendation is not to risk it” if there was evidence of these smaller fish around.
“Generally our recommendation has been that dawn and dusk can be risk periods, although in recent months there have been attacks outside these times,” she said.
She noted shark bites were “still extremely rare and it’s an incredibly low risk that you’ll ever come into contact with a shark”.
Ms Wishart said a beach where a shark attack had occurred would generally be closed for 24 hours. She said the unpatrolled Bombo Beach would likely be signposted by Kiama council lifeguards and volunteers on Thursday to alert swimmers of the attack.
“Department of Primary Industries experts will also be able to assess from the wound what size and species the shark is, and then we’ll go from there,” she said.