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A surfer has been left with “severe” injuries after being attacked by a shark off the Sonoma Coast north of Bodega Bay in California.

Witness Jared Davis told ABC news that the victim was a Salmon Creek Beach regular named Eric: "He was yelling. He was saying, 'shark,' he was [shouting], he was saying how, and the two of us kind of paddled to shore and he had kind of caught up to me and I saw his leg.

After the shark bit him, “It looked like he had a red stripe on his wetsuit," Davis said.

Fellow beachgoers rallied round to administer first aid, applying an improvised tourniquet to prevent the victim from bleeding out.

Bodega Bay paramedic Timothy Saluzzo said that the surfers’ prompt action “really helped to save his leg”.

He added: “The top of the leg was not as bad but once we kind of rolled over and looked at the back side there was a pretty good laceration”.

Eric told the paramedics he had been paddling on his board when the shark attacked, and he had done his best to fight it off.“

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"He said he got it in the eye,” said paramedic Jonathan Bauer, adding “I'm not sure if he punched it or if he was grabbing it”.

David Bynum, a captain in the Bodega Bay Fire Department, speculated that the shark had been a great white but said officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would be using DNA samples collected from the victim’s wetsuit and surfboard to confirm the exact type of shark..

Great whites are particularly common in the area, and the waters around Bodega Bay are part of an area known as “The Red Triangle” because of its high frequency of shark attacks.

Fatalities are still quite rare, though, with only fourteen deaths from shark attacks being recorded since records began in the 1950s.

One local surfer, Jeff Berlin, said that regulars at the beach were aware of the dangers and added that he was "trying to make peace with the fact they are out there all the time and we share the water with them."

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