Surfer lands on shark after being bumped off his board at Yallingup

When surfer Gary May got "thumped" in the waves at Yallingup Main Break on Saturday he looked down on his 9-foot, 33-inch wide paddleboard and saw the jaws of a shark wrapped around the rail.

That was the moment right before he fell and landed on the shark.

Mr May was in Yallingup celebrating his 75th birthday and "just wanted to catch a decent sized wave."

"On the Friday when I got down there it was glassy and hardly any wind, I went out and got three really nice waves which were over head height," he said.

"That made my birthday really great."

The next morning he went to Margaret River in the morning but it was too hard so he went back to Yallingup and paddled out off the reef.

"I went through the channel and headed north, I went in a big semi-circle arc behind the back," he said.

"I was kneeling up on a 9-foot paddleboard, 33 inches wide, I was minding my own business when all of a sudden out of nowhere I got hit like a bomb on the side of the board.

"When I felt the impact I looked down and saw the head of a shark attached to the rail, its upper jaw was over the top and its lower jaw was over the bottom, it had the whole rail in its mouth.

"When they measured it the mouth of the shark was 20 centimetres wide, I thought it was only 5-foot, but they have said it was between 5 and 7-foot."

When the shark knocked Mr May off his board he fell forward onto the shark could feel it wriggle out underneath him.

"I wasn't too worried other than it might nip me when it swam out," he said.

Mr May thought it was better that the shark had bitten his board rather than him.

Mr May had dropped his paddle when fell off the board, which he said was the one cardinal rule of paddleboarding, not to lose your paddle.

"Without a paddle it is very hard to manoeuvre and get around, especially when it is 33 inches wide, my arms don't even fit over the board so I was paddling like a wounded duck," he said.

"I did not really worry about my paddle, I just wanted to get back on my board as quickly as possible."

Mr May got tipped off his board a second time when the tail end of a big set wave came past him.

"A surfer on the wave whizzed passed me, he turned around and paddled back out," he said.

"I called him over and told him I had been attacked by a shark and showed him the marks on the board.

"I told him I was going in and he said, yeah I think I will join you, so he came in with me which I thought was good because there was only a 50 per cent chance of getting eaten."

Mr May managed to recover his paddle, kneeling, he paddled back in with the surfer.

"I do not think he was too happy about being on a short board, in fact if I had been surfing on a short board or longboard I reckon I might have lost my arm," he said.

"Where you put your stroke forward was exactly where the bite mark was on the board."

When Mr May got back to the beach he put his board on the tables up the top of Yallingup, and went to look for his wife.

"When I finally found her she was on the phone, I told her to hang up because I had something to show her.

"She walked over with me, I pointed to the big round teeth marks in the board and said, Mela what do you think that is?

"She looked at it for two seconds then yelled, shark."

The surfer who paddled in with Mr May called emergency services and a few minutes later the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service was flying overhead sounding the alarm.

"They turned the siren on and we were deafened, they cleared the water except for about four surfers," he said.

"A few minutes later fisheries officers rang me and asked if they could take my board to get DNA samples to find out the species of the shark and find out the size.

"They agreed to come and pick it up and took it back to board.

"I was without a board for the next few days, which was a bummer, but I had lots of people offering me a spare paddleboard so I could have gone and got one.

"Quite frankly, I don't think my wife would have been too happy if I had gone straight back in the water, so I decided to save my marriage rather than go for a surf."

Yallingup Beach remained closed on Sunday morning while authorities conducted patrols of the area.

The paddleboard was sent to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Fisheries research facility at Hillarys for scientific assessment of the bite marks and DNA analysis, in a bid to determine the species of the shark involved.