Australian surfer survives shark attack

(ABC News)
(ABC News)

A man has lived through a shark attack off the coast of New South Wales -- but he wasn't able to escape completely unscathed.

The man was confronted by the shark on Bombo Beach not long after 7pm (AEDT) last night, with his screams drawing the attention of the bystanders who eventually saved his life.

The man is expected to require surgery on his leg, with some reports suggesting a large chunk of the man's thigh was ripped off by the shark.

Ambulance NSW Illawarra district Inspector Terry Morrow, who was at the scene, said the man's left thigh was almost completely gone, leaving him "in a significant amount of pain".

The northern end of Bombo Beach, where the man was attacked, remains closed.

Sharks do not normally hunt humans and attacks are very rare, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says.

Attacks on humans are what the NOAA calls a case of "mistaken identity", where a swimmer or surfer is mistaken for a fish or marine mammal, and most often sharks will release the person after the first bite.