An Australian swimmer who grabbed the tail of a large shark as it attacked a snorkelling tour guide likely saved the young woman's life, a rescuer said Sunday.
Nineteen-year-old Elyse Frankcom was leading a swimming with dolphins encounter in waters off western Australia on Saturday when a shark, reportedly a three-metre-long great white, bit into her hip and buttocks.
"As the shark bit her, it brushed aside a fairly large male who grabbed hold of the tail of the shark, which then made it let go," one of the first rescuers on the scene, Fremantle Sea Rescue senior skipper Frank Pisani, said.
"The girl then started to sink to the bottom and he grabbed her and brought her to the surface and got her back on board the boat. He certainly was instrumental in making this a good outcome."
The shark attacked as Frankcom led an expedition off Garden Island about 50 kilometres from Perth.
The Perth Now website said that there were two dolphins by Frankcom's side when she duck-dived into the seven-metre deep water and a shark came up from the bottom and bit into her.
It said that 33 people, including three children, were on board the boat at the time of the attack.
Frankcom has had surgery for her injuries and was in a stable condition in hospital Sunday, and was expected to be released soon.
Media reports said the unnamed hero refused to speak to journalists when the tour boat returned to dock.
"All I want is the girl to be OK," he reportedly said.
Sharks are a common feature of Australian waters but fatal attacks are rare, with only 53 fatalities in the last half-century, according to the Australian Shark Attack File.