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Shark bite missed artery by millimetres logo 17/02/2019 9News Staff

The "heroic" actions of bystanders helped save a bleeding shark attack victim who came to shore with a "chunk" missing from his leg.

Sam Edwardes, 41, was surfing at Belongil Beach in Byron Bay this morning with friend Dane Davidson.

"As soon as my mate got out the back, he sat up on his board and instantly a shark smashed from underneath," the man's friend Dane Davidson said.

"It came up from underneath and knocked him clean off his board. There was a lot of thrashing and splashing. He started screaming.

a man standing in front of a car: Sam Edwardes has been airlifted to hospital. © 9news Sam Edwardes has been airlifted to hospital.

"I didn't realise until I paddled with him back into the beach and there was a big chunk taken out of his leg. There was a lot of blood. A random bloke on the beach and I jumped in and wrapped ropes around his leg for a tourniquet because the bleeding was bad. Hopefully that prevented him from losing a lot of blood."

The shark took a dinner-plate-sized chunk from Sam's board, but he managed to return to shore and alert other surfers.

He was treated at the scene by paramedics, before being air-lifted to Gold Coast University Hospital where he remains in a critical but stable condition.

The bite to his left thigh missed an artery by just millimetres.

Six people came to Mr Edwardes' aid as they waited for the ambulance.

A man has been bitten by a shark at Byron Bay. © 9news A man has been bitten by a shark at Byron Bay.

"The actions of those on the beach could be called heroic," Daniel Willis from NSW Ambulance said.

"They have assisted in controlling the hemorrhage."

Belongil Beach and Main Beach have been closed for 24 hours.

Officers from Tweed/Byron Police District will liaise with Department of Primary Industry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The shark has not yet been found.

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