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Lydia Ward: New Zealand Teen Fights Off Shark With Body Board

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A teenage New Zealand girl bitten by a shark bashed it over the head with her body board until it let her go, she said.

Lydia Ward, 14, was in waist-deep water with her brother on Monday at Oreti Beach on the country's South Island when the shark – believed to be a broad-nosed seven gill shark – grabbed her hip. She said she did not notice the shark until the attack was under way.

"I saw my brother's face and turned to the side and saw this large gray thing in the water so I just hit it on the head with a boogie board," Ward told National Radio, adding that she had read about a surfer who fought off a shark attack with her board. "That's what she did, and that's what you're meant to do."

The pair fled from the water safter the attack. The girl's mother, Fiona Ward, said the shark's bite had ripped Lydia's wet suit and penetrated her skin, but the teen required no stitches.

Conservation Department marine scientist Clinton Duffy said the shark was likely a broad-nosed seven gill shark, a species that grows to up to 10 feet (3 meters) long and that has attacked swimmers at the Oreti Beach in the past.

The last time the species attacked a human at Oreti Beach was in 1999, and the young girl victim required 60 stitches, Duffy said.

Lydia, a former competitive swimmer and regular beach swimmer, said she would be sticking to rivers and lakes in the future.

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