Authorities did not know what type of shark it was but said the beach would be closed for at least two days (stock image)

Authorities did not know what type of shark it was but said the beach would be closed for at least two days (stock image)
A surfer has been left in a critical condition after being attacked by a shark off a California beach.

The surfer, identified by friends as Eric, was bitten on his thigh while in the sea near Bodega Bay around 9am on Sunday.

The man, in his 30s, was with a group of surfers off Sonoma County's Salmon Creek Beach when the shark bit him on the thigh, according to the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District.

His fellow surfers helped get him to shore and bystanders applied first aid until emergency crews arrived and he was airlifted to hospital, KTVU-TV reported.


Friend Jared Davis told the outlet: 'I saw the dorsal fin of the shark and then I saw the tail fin of the shark.

'They were going down into the water. It definitely wasn't like a quick attack. It was nice and slow. Kind of like a dolphin peaking up.'

Davis said Eric was 'yelling' for help during the attack and that he helped his friend paddle to shore where he applied a tourniquet with two separate surf leashes.

'I saw his leg. It looked like he had a red stripe on his wetsuit,' Davis told ABC.

Paramedics said Davis' intervention was crucial in saving Eric's leg.

Timothy Saluzzo said: 'Based on the care he got prior to arrival I think it really helped to save his leg,

'The top of the leg was not as bad but once we kind of rolled over and looked at the back side there was a pretty good laceration'.

Saluzzo explained Eric said he managed to touch the shark's eye, though it was not clear if he tried to punch or grab the animal.

Authorities did not know what type of shark it was but said the beach would be closed for at least two days.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter took the surfer to a hospital. His injuries are not considered life-threatening, fire officials said.

Shark attacks are rare off the Californian coast with less than 200 incidents since 1950, SFGate reported, citing the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.