A bleeding and wounded tattoo artist in Australia fought his way back to a NSW beach as a marauding two-metre shark that attacked him seconds earlier circled, its fin slicing the surface.

Glen Folkard was catching waves off Redhead Beach, south of Newcastle, yesterday afternoon when the shark dragged him under, slicing his leg open and taking a chunk from his surfboard.

The 44-year-old, known as Lenny, fought his way free and with the help of mates began paddling back to shore.

Witnesses described how, as Mr Folkard trailed blood, the fish appeared to circle, possibly readying itself for a second attack.


"It was definitely coming around again, you could see the fin and he (the shark) looked ready to attack,'' surfer Tony Constance told AAP.

Others likened the attack to something from the Jaws films.

"It was kind of like Jaws, you know, the scene at the start ... where everybody's pulled out of the water and it's a hot day and the water's inviting,'' another witness, named only as Peter, told Fairfax.

"My son actually said he saw the shark leap out of the water and grab a fish. The word is it was a bull shark.

"His (Mr Folkard's) skin was really grey, he obviously lost quite a lot of blood.''

Lifeguards met Mr Folkard on the beach and he was rushed to John Hunter Hospital in a stable condition.

The tattoo artist, who owns Downunder Tattoo, in Charlestown, had surgery for a deep laceration on his leg last night.

Around 500 people were on the beach at the time, with about 100 in the water.


The Newcastle Herald said Mr Folkard was the furthest out of a group of about 15 surfers.

"He just started yelling help, I need help, surfer Nathan Visscher told the newspaper.

"I saw a trail of blood coming from him and then his board popped back up.

"He was able to get back on his board and try and paddle away but he was pretty disoriented.''

Another witness, Tony James, told the Newcastle Herald: ``It's just hit him and took him under for a bit.

"He's managed to get to the surface but I saw it start to follow him.''

Local beaches were closed last night and the Westpac rescue helicopter and police helicopter were reportedly patrolling the area looking for the shark responsible.