Fisherman Terry Selwood was sitting on an esky in the middle of his small boat, enjoying the solitude of an afternoon's fishing off the NSW North Coast, when all hell broke loose in the middle of the ocean.
Out of the corner of his eye, the 73-year-old saw something launch itself over the side of his 5??-metre vessel, which was bobbing about two kilometres off the coast of Evans Head, on Saturday afternoon.
The next thing Mr Selwood knew, he had been knocked off his esky onto the deck, and was eye-to-eye with a large shark as it thrashed about next to him.
"There I was on all fours and he's looking at me and I'm looking at him, and then he started to do the dance around and shake, and I couldn't get out quick enough onto the gunnel [side of the boat]," Mr Selwood told the ABC.
A Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman confirmed to Fairfax Media that fisheries staff had since identified the shark, estimated to be 2.7 metres long, as a great white shark.
Mr Selwood was not bitten, but suffered a number of cuts to his right arm, and the animal's rough skin tore the skin off it.
He was able to grab his radio and make a distress call, received by Marine Rescue Evans Head.
Lance Fountain, a member of Marine Rescue Evans Head, said he and two other crew members immediately launched a boat and arrived to find Mr Selwood "standing up on the port side ... covered in blood with numerous lacerations on his right forearm".
"A large shark was also found in the cabin of the not-so-large fishing boat," Mr Fountain said.
Mr Selwood was quickly transferred onto the deck of the rescue boat, where his injuries were assessed and treated.
He recounted his incredible story as they returned to land, Mr Fountain said.
The fisherman explained how the shark suddenly launched itself out of the water, clearing the engine and landing on the deck, where it thrashed about violently.
"In the process, it knocked the stunned 73-year-old fisherman onto the deck as well," Mr Fountain posted on the Marine Rescue Evans Head Facebook page.
"Fighting to get to his feet and as far away from the shark as possible, the fisherman was relentlessly knocked about the deck and cabin, which is where he sustained most of his injuries.
"Eventually the fisherman was able to clamber up onto the port side gunwale of the boat where he remained while the shark continued to thrash about the deck of the boat."
When they reached shore, Mr Selwood was taken by NSW Ambulance paramedics to Lismore Base Hospital where he received a number of stitches to his arm. He has since been released, and will make a full recovery.
Mr Fountain said the rescue boat then returned to Mr Selwood's boat and towed it to shore, with the shark on board.
The animal had died, and its body was retrieved by Department of Primary Industries staff to perform a necropsy.
Authorities believe there is no way Mr Selwood could have caught the 200-kilogram shark and reeled it onto his boat, as the fishing line he had on board was for snapper - which weighs about 10 kilograms.
The shark was removed by a forklift when it was brought to shore.
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