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Surfer Attacked By Shark In Bali

An American surfer was attacked by a shark at Balian, western Bali, yesterday at around 7am. According to reports, the surfer, who is believed to be Californian, was bitten on his elbow and forearm, before riding a wave all the way inside, where he was rescued by local surfers.

“I was having breakfast at the Warung in front of the break at the rivermouth,” recalls Twiggy Van Ryan, Balian resident and owner of the Kaimana Royal, a traditional charter boat operating in the Mentawai Islands. “I saw Ketut (local surfer) heading towards the shoreline and saw the guy coming in holding his elbow. At first I thought he'd hit the bottom and maybe dislocated his shoulder or something. His girlfriend came running up saying it was a shark attack, so I gave her my singlet and followed her back down the beach. It was a pretty heavy wound, maybe four inches either side of the tip of the elbow, basically his whole elbow had gone into the sharks mouth and it was pretty badly damaged as the shark pulled back. Really messy. We wrapped the wound properly and he went into shock - kind of a short blackout. Then the locals and myself tied the top of his arm to slow the bleeding and then got him in a car and he was taken to hospital.”

Stab contacted the hospital but was unable to speak to the victim, as he is still in ICU.

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Balian, a slice of paradise. Indo's not know for its sharks, but there's few bodies of water in the world that are void of them. Throw a rivermouth in the mix, and... Photo: http://www.villabalian.com/

“It was pretty gnarly,” says Twiggy. “I think he'll be in hospital for quite some time. It appeared that he may have escaped ligament damage, as he could still move his fingers, but there was lots of muscle torn, for sure. The local guys did a great job helping, it was a team effort. I was also stoked to see that they were first in the water today, about 20 minutes before me. It's good to see the attack hasn't freaked them out too much.”

This is the fifth attack to take place at the spot in the same number of years, according to American Eddie Biancardi, a retired expat who’s been living in Balian for nine years. “The first attack was about five years ago, and then three more attacks followed in a two-year period. The truth is, there have always been sharks here. I've been living in Balian for nine years and surfing here for about 15 years, and I’ve always seen sharks. They have a tendency to jump out of the water. Last year a local fisherman caught a bull shark from the beach. Most of the attacks have been while the water was murky from the river flowing, which yesterday it definitely was.”

Usually these encounters go unreported because the victims’ injuries are quite mild – nothing more than investigative little nibbles. This latest attack, however, seems to have involved a much more aggressive shark.

Our thoughts go out to the currently-unknown victim.