A surfer has been described as “the luckiest man on earth” after a shark snapped his board in half before biting his hip on the NSW north coast this morning

Byron Bay local Abe McGrath, 35, was lying on his board off Main Beach, about 300m north of the Illuka Wall, just after 6am when a shark “latched” its jaws onto his surfboard.

Fellow surfer Bryce Cameron, 34, said the shark, believed to be a 3.5m juvenile white pointer — also known as a great white shark — came up from underneath Mr McGrath, snapping his board in half then piercing his hip.

“He was laying on his board and he got attacked from below really aggressively, the force of the attack snapped his board,” Mr Cameron, who was on the beach and about to head into the water when the attack occurred, said.

“The impact lifted him up. The shark was coming from the deep and hit (Abe’s board) with its nose and opened its mouth and latched on the board.

Mr Cameron said shark got the majority of the board in its mouth.

“He got a good look at it. He said it was a 3.5m white pointer. In the big scheme of things that is a juvenile but it is still big enough to kill.”

“Abe was left floating in the water with a couple of teeth marks on his body. He scrambled in the water and got washed in by the next wave.”

“He is pretty much the luckiest man on earth right now. He was lying on his board, but if he had been sitting on it he would have lost a leg.”

Mr McGrath was “stoked” to be alive and OK after the ordeal, Mr Cameron said.

“He was stoked, he wasn’t in shock yet, he was really happy to be alive and in front of his mates. We were all giving him big hugs and felt pretty lucky to have him there.”

Elijah “Hobbit” Colbey was the only other surfer out in the ocean with Mr McGrath when the shark attack happened.

“We were 50m apart and it was just me and him out there,” he said.

“A good wave rolled past, we were both watching it, and then I looked back and saw Abe skimming across the water splashing.

“Then I hear f**k off, f**k off and then my nickname Hobbit being called out.

“I started paddling towards him for help and then my mind clicked to it being the worst possible outcome.”

Mr Colbey said a wave brought Mr McGrath, who is an experienced fisherman, back in to where he could stand up.

“I grabbed his two broken bits of surfboard and we looked at each other and counted our blessings that we could actually walk away,” he said.


“He was very stoked to be able to walk up the beach with me … we could look back on it and be very stoked but also shaken up and in shock.”

The pair then went to get a first aid kit to treat the gash on Mr McGrath’s right hip.

“I put a gauze bandage on him and wrapped it around his body and drove him to hospital,” he said.

They first went to Ballina Hospital, where he was treated for the bite, before being transferred to Lismore Hospital.

“He needed a few stitches and to have a bit of an x-ray for his hip,” Mr Colbey said.

Main and Bluff beaches were closed as a result of the attack.

NSWDPI confirmed it was investigating “a reported shark bite at Iluka today”.