American Surfer Attacked By 'Giant' Shark Off Australian Beach

An American surfer said she considered herself "very lucky" after she was attacked by a "giant" shark off the coast of Australia early Wednesday, suffering only minor injuries.

The shark encounter took place near the West Australian south coast town of Denmark, according to the ABC. Expats Lily Kumpe, 37, and her husband Mike, 45, were surfing at Ocean Beach, and had been in the water for only 15 to 20 minutes when she was knocked off her board by what is believed to have been an extremely large shark.

"I was surfing this morning with my husband, it was just the two of us out there," Lily recalled. "I was laying down on my board paddling and then I just felt something hit me and I fell off my board. My husband paddled over to me and got me onto his board and we paddled in. He said he saw it but... all that I think both of us saw was a large dark mass."Though the couple did not directly observe the shark, they did note that a pod of dolphins was swimming nearby just before the attack. The shark bit into Lily's board as it struck her, severing a large chunk of foam near where her head was resting, according to NBC News. She suffered bruises on both shins, as well as cuts on her face, hands, and feet, though Lily stated that she felt lucky to not have been injured further in the attack.

"I just saw something come up and lunge at her," Mike Taylor related. "The next thing I knew Lily was screaming in the water."

Though Lily said that she couldn't be sure that it was a shark which struck her board, she noted that the animal "seemed gigantic." Officials with the Department of Fisheries examined her surfboard, however, and their analysis left little doubt as to the nature of the animal responsible.

"It was definitely a shark," they told her.

Earlier this week, an extremely rare basking shark was caught in Australian waters. As the Inquisitr previously reported, however, that species of shark is not dangerous to humans, and despite its imposing size, feeds primarily on plankton.

The beach where the attack occurred has been closed for 24 hours while authorities attempt to track the shark responsible. Denmark shire chief executive Dale Stewart noted that Wednesday's incident marks the first shark attack ever recorded at the popular Australian beach.

[Image: Mark Bennett via the Australian Broadcasting Corp]