A mako shark attacked a fisherman on his boat deck, biting him on the leg after the man reeled it in while fishing off Australia's east coast Sunday, an official said.

The 20-year-old deckhand was airlifted by helicopter rescue, said Brian Russell, a spokesman for the rescue service. He was flown to the Gold Coast Hospital where his condition was reported as stable before he underwent surgery.

The man had been fishing for tuna when he reeled in a 10-foot, 90 200-pound mako shark and landed it on the deck.

"He stepped on its tail and it whipped around and latched on to his tight calf, biting through to the bone," Russell said.

"The shark had his leg clamped in its jaws for several minutes until other deckhands cut its head off," he added.

Paramedic Darrin Hatchman said the victim was lucky to be alive because the bite narrowly missed major arteries.