Girl fights off shark with body board

A teenage girl bitten by a shark told today how she fought off the creature, smashing it over the head with her body board until it let her go.

A teenage girl bitten by a shark told today how she fought off the creature, smashing it over the head with her body board until it let her go.

Lydia Ward, 14, was in waist-deep water with her brother on Monday at Oreti Beach, on New Zealand’s South Island, when what was believed to be a broad-nosed seven gill shark grabbed her hip.

She said she did not notice the shark until the attack was under way.

“I saw my brother’s face and turned to the side and saw this large grey thing in the water so I just hit it on the head with a boogie board,” Lydia told National Radio.

She said she had read about a surfer who fought off a shark attack with her board. “That’s what she did, and that’s what you’re meant to do,” she said.

The pair fled from the water after the attack. Lydia’s mother, Fiona Ward, said the shark’s bite had ripped Lydia’s wet suit and penetrated her skin, but luckily the teenager required no stitches.

Conservation Department marine scientist Clinton Duffy said broad-nosed seven gill shark grew to up to 10ft long and had attacked swimmers at the Oreti Beach in the past.

The last time the species attacked a human at Oreti Beach was in 1999 and the young girl victim required 60 stitches, he said.

Lydia, a former competitive swimmer and regular beach swimmer, said she would be sticking to rivers and lakes in the future.

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