updated 10/10/2004 11:04:45 PM ET 2004-10-11T03:04:45

A surfer was bitten by a shark off the Northern California coast Sunday, prompting park officials to close beaches near the site of the attack, authorities said.

The shark bit the leg of the unidentified surfer just off Limantour Beach, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, according to park officials at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The man told authorities the shark, which was between six and eight feet long, released his leg after he hit it on the head. The surfer then paddled to shore on his own, park officials said.

The surfer was taken by helicopter to a Santa Rosa hospital for treatment of injuries to his lower leg.

The shark was believed to be a great white.

Park officials closed the waters off Limantour Beach and adjoining Drakes Beach for five days. The beaches will be reopened if no more shark sightings are reported.

Sightings of great white sharks are common near Point Reyes in the fall when seal lions, elephant seals and harbor seals visit the area. The last shark attack along the national seashore occurred in 1996.

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