Woman forced open shark's jaws to escape

A French tourist attacked by a shark in Southland on Thursday managed to force open the shark's jaw to escape.

Surf instructor Nick Smart was one of the first on the scene after the random attack near Curio Bay.

"She was on the beach, being dragged up the beach by her French friends. Her legs were lacerated."

The woman told Mr Smart the shark got a good mouthful, leaving deep puncture wounds above her knees and a large gash on the back of her leg.

Even though she says it was fairly small, she managed to reach around and physically prise its jaw open and release herself.

Rescuers stretchered the woman to a nearby house, where they used towels and applied pressure to stem the bleeding.

"There were plenty of hands around. There were plenty of people to help. But the main thing was to keep her warm and just reassure her she was going to be okay, and just wait for the chopper to arrive," Mr Smart says.

Incredibly, Mr Smart was also on hand the last time a shark attacked a surfer in New Zealand, in the same bay in 2014.

"[It's] very unusual to have both of them in the same location. Kind of similar wounds too."

The injured woman's in a stable condition at Dunedin Hospital, where she's expected to remain for the next week and a half. Her three friends have joined her there.

The group have been travelling the country together, but the accident has left them low on funds and on the lookout for accommodation while their friend recovers.


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