Bruce Lucas, 46, was grabbed by the bull shark as he paddled off around 60m off Saltwater Beach, near Taree, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, on Sunday afternoon. With his left arm trapped in the shark’s jaw he managed to courageously throw a combination of right hooks and uppercuts into its snout – eventually causing the dazed shark to release its grip and swim off.

Police inspector Neil Stephens told Seven News: “He reached over and punched the shark multiple times with his right fist to make the shark let go.”

Mr Lucas was bleeding heavily as he paddled to the shore, and needed 30 stitches in his injured arm at Manning Base Hospital. He is said to be in a ‘very stable’ condition following his terrifying ordeal.

It is generally believed by marine experts that punching a shark in the snout – or attempting to gouge out its eyes – represents the best chance of escape if attacked.