DOCTORS were fighting last night to save the left arm of Nelson Bay woman Lisa Mondy after she was viciously mauled by a shark at Jimmys Beach yesterday.
The 24-year-old fell while riding a wakeboard off the popular swimming beach in Port Stephens about 1pm when the shark attacked several times, dragging her underwater at least twice.
"[It] grabbed hold of her face," Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokesman Glen Ramplin said.
"It's got her a second time on the left upper arm and it's pretty much taken her arm off.
"The bite on her arm is all the way to the bone."
Ms Mondy, originally from Wauchope, was wakeboarding with a group of friends and colleagues from Port Stephens Parasailing, where she works during the week.
Owner Ian Cutbush said his son had been wakeboarding with Ms Mondy using one of the company boats when the attack happened.
Ambulance NSW said Ms Mondy suffered "very severe" arm injuries as well as serious wounds to her head, shoulder and the right side of her neck in the attack.
Friends rushed the water sports enthusiast back to the public wharf at Nelson Bay where she was met and treated by paramedics.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter flew her to John Hunter Hospital, where she arrived conscious and was able to smile and wave to waiting media.
The hospital listed her condition last night as stable.
Frank Future, the director of Imagine Cruises where Ms Mondy works on weekends, described her as a "very gutsy girl" who was well liked.
"She is into everything, horse riding, snorkeling, wave-riding," he said.
"She's a tough kid covered in scars from when she has fallen off horses.
"She is an extraordinary musician, a songwriter and guitarist. She's very strong, that strength is going to help her out in recovery."
It's not known what species of shark attacked Ms Mondy.
South Australian man Ben Morcom, 31, was bitten on the buttock by what was believed to be a two-metre great white shark at a surfing spot known as The Boulders, near Jimmys Beach, in December 2007.
Port Stephens Shark and Ray Centre owner Andrew Tindale said it could be a number of species including a great white, but was probably a bull shark.
"If I was a betting man, I would say a bull [shark] but it is really a guess," he said.
"The whole thing about the bay area is it has a mixture of tropical and temperate [shark] species."
Mr Tindale said it was common for a number of species, including bull sharks, tiger sharks, dusky whalers and smaller great whites to enter Port Stephens.
"If she came off the wakeboard into a school of fish then that may be the cause but it is just a guess," he said.
Mr Tindale said it was rare for great whites to move in to bay areas but was not unheard of.
According to her Facebook page, Ms Mondy is a fan of Sharkwater, a movie that "debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks as bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters".
One of her friends who was waiting outside the hospital told Network Ten that Ms Mondy was a shark lover.
"She is aware of them, cares about them deeply," he told the broadcaster.
"They're an animal in the sea. We have to share their home."