Woman Gets Attacked by Shark After Drifting 650 Feet From Shore on Pool Ring

A woman was attacked by a shark after getting blown about 650 feet out to sea on a rubber ring, with the predator knocking her from the float as onlookers watched on in horror.

The attack happened on February 6 near to the town of Esperance in south-west Australia, close to the scene of two previous fatal shark attacks.

A witness described seeing a trail of blood in the water as the woman swam towards shore holding her side.

Australia leads the world in the number of fatal shark attacks on humans. Several species of larger shark inhabit the waters surrounding the country including great whites, tiger sharks and bull sharks, the bites from which are more likely to be severe.

Though the species of shark involved was not confirmed, a 10.8-foot great white was reported in the area shortly after the attack. A video posted to Facebook and YouTube by wildlife channel Riggs Australia claimed to show a shark swimming close to the area.

Barry Brown was at the beach when the attack happened and rescued the woman. He told ABC News he was about 60 feet from the shore when he reached her and carried her to the beach. He said he had seen her drifting further out to sea for about half an hour before the shark struck.

"She just seemed to be getting deeper and deeper and deeper ... "Then it knocked her off. We could see the shark's tail come out of the water and into the air," Brown told the broadcaster. "The shark actually circled the [pool ring] a couple of times and then took back off into the blue."

He helped take the woman by car to a hospital where she is now recovering.

The Australian Government's Shark Smart website said that beaches in the area where to attack took place were closed on Monday following patrols by Fisheries officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Authorities said they had recovered a "pool ring" in the area after responding to news of the attack. Western Australia's Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Shark Response Unit are investigating the attack and have closed all beaches in the area.

Two fatal sharks attacks have taken place in Wylie Bay in recent years. In October 2020, a surfer named Andrew Sharpe died after a shark near Esperance. A 17-year-old surfer named Laeticia Maree Brouwer died after a shark attack in the area in April 2017.

The number of shark attacks rose sharply in 2021, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. It showed there were 12 cases of unprovoked shark bites on humans in Australia in 2021. Three of them were fatal, more than any other country.

"Australia has more fatalities because there are a lot of white sharks down there, near the surface, feeding on seals," Gavin Naylor, the director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, previously told Newsweek. "And people there are all out surfing ... and when a large white shark bites you on the leg in can sever your femoral artery and often can be fatal unless you get attention really quickly."

Stock image of shark fin
Stock image of a great white shark's fin above the water. Australia had more fatal shark attacks (3) than any other country in 2021 ap-images/Getty Images