Just before 4.25pm yesterday, a large number of surfers were making the most of conditions at Main Beach, Crescent Head, before a shark attack forced them into action.
Joe Hoffman, a 25-year-old experienced surfer from the Sunshine Coast, was swimming back to shore when he was bitten by what Surf Life Saving NSW confirmed to be a three-metre great white shark.
"He was swimming back in at the beach front with his mate before being attacked," one witness told the Macleay Argus.
"They managed to get him out of the water, others ran down and helped as they carried him up to the park.
"It was the unconditional action of tourists and locals that saved him."
The NSW Department of Primary Industries confirmed the likely presence of a white shark.
"DPI is assisting NSW Police and Surf Life Saving NSW to monitor the area and provide technical advice and resources as required," they said.
"NSW DPI shark scientists have analysed photographs of the bite and determined a white shark of approximately three metres in length is likely responsible for the bite."
"Much praise must be given to bystanders who helped the man from the water and provided that crucial initial first aid," NSW Ambulance Inspector Andrew Beverley said.
"It was a significant bite and the man suffered serious injuries to his arm as a result. He was stabilised on scene and then flown to John Hunter Hospital in a serious but stable condition."
Witnesses reported a leg rope was used as a tourniquet to stem the man's bleeding.
Further accounts reported seeing a pod of dolphins in the area before the attack.
The beach has been closed by Surf Life Saving NSW.
Surf Life Saving NSW drones are currently assisting with surveillance flights for sharks in the area.
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