A teenager has been left shaken but unscathed by a very close encounter with a shark more than a kilometre offshore of an Adelaide suburban beach.

Key points:

  • Teenager Jed Ffrench was in a group conducting training when the shark attacked
  • The animal left bite marks in the craft, and the boys rapidly paddled back to shore
  • Surf lifesaving authorities say it was a “close call”, but should not deter swimmers

Jed Ffrench, 17, was among five boys conducting surf lifesaving training off Glenelg beach last night when a shark attacked his surf ski.

After the animal sank its teeth into the rear of the craft, leaving several bite marks, Jed and the others rapidly paddled about 1.5 kilometres back to shore.

“He felt a thud on the rear of his surf ski,” said Surf Life Saving SA emergency operations manager Daniel Willetts.

“On turning around, he’s seen the head of an unknown species of shark biting the rear of the surf ski.

The attack happened about 1.5 kilometres offshore from Glenelg beach.(ABC News: Eugene Boisvert)

Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club member Dan Demaria said the boys were a “lot further out than normal” when the encounter occurred.

“There was a big thud, a big crunch, and then [Jed] looked around and the boys said there was a shark,” he said.

“It took a chomp, they looked around and just hoicked it back to shore. They were going so fast I think at one stage one of the boys even fell off, sort of halfway back. He got straight back on and paddled.

“One thing they said, it was a red-eyed shark — they remarked how red the eyes were.

Lifesaving authorities say it was a “close call” but hope it does not deter swimmers.(Supplied)

Mr Willetts praised the teenagers for their composure and quick thinking.

He said that Jed had been left “shaken”, and was receiving counselling, but that he and the other boys were otherwise safe and well.

“It’s a close call,” he said.

“Everybody remained calm, they came back in and reported the matter to us.”

Mr Willetts said while there had been an increase in sightings recently, there was no evidence the number of sharks off Adelaide’s coast was any higher than usual.

He said he did not think local swimmers should be deterred.

“They are safe to attend metro beaches and go about their business … we know the risks when we get into the water [but] these incidents are isolated,” he said.

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