An Australian surfer said he was lucky to be alive on Monday after needing 300 stitches to close a gash in his leg inflicted by a great white shark on a west coast beach.

Michael Bedford, 41, was attacked on Sunday by at least one shark at Conspicuous Cliffs near Walpole in Western Australia.

He was helped by a fellow surfer and local fishermen who tied a makeshift tourniquet around his leg and used a surfboard as a makeshift stretcher to lug him up the cliffs to where an ambulance could collect him.

“I really would like to thank everybody that was there,” he told public broadcaster ABC. “It was a really big effort on their behalf.

I weigh quite a bit and they carried me all up those stairs, along the beach.” Mr. Bedford said he saw the shark coming for him from 20 metres away.

“It happened that quickly — I’m not sure if I turned the board or tried to get my leg out the water — but next thing I knew I was getting lifted out of the water, was getting hit by the shark.” Mr. Bedford told his local paper that he was grateful to be alive to hug his two children, aged 8 and 9.

“I’m just contemplating being here — life,” he said. “I haven’t thought about it but I probably will some day. I’m not going to stop living. I don’t know why it hit me. I was probably in its way.”

More In: International | News