TRURO (CBS) – A swimmer was attacked and seriously injured by a shark at a Cape Cod beach Wednesday afternoon. The man was bitten by a shark at Longnook Beach at about 4:00 p.m.

The 61-year-old suffered puncture wounds to his hip and torso. He was taken to Wellfleet and then loaded onto a Medflight helicopter to be flown to Tufts Medical Center.

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The victim reported he was bitten while standing in water approximately 30 yards offshore.

It was two recent graduates of the Boston College nursing school who first rushed to the man’s aid, using towels to stop his bleeding. They told WBZ-TV’s Louisa Moller it was clear that he had been bitten by a shark.

“We’re walking, people start running in the other direction saying a man had been in a shark attack,” said Molly Tobin. “So having just graduated from Boston College nursing, we were like OK lets go see if there’s anything we can do to help.”

Shark attack victim carried up dune at Longnook Beach (Image credit @mesullybrklyn)

Several people helped carry the victim up a dune to the beach parking lot.

“It was awesome to see how many people were able to come together to help this man,” said Kerstin Peterleitner, also a recent nursing school graduate. “There were so many people helping carry him off on a blanket and then EMS met us halfway through, were able to strap him on a board and so many people helped carry him up that hill.”

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Longnook Beach was closed after the attack, but several swimmers remained in the water.

WBZ-TV’s SkyEye spotted what appeared to be a great white shark in the water near the scene of the attack.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a group that raises awareness of sharks, says these types of incidents are usually a case of mistaken identity.

“Encounters with white sharks in which people suffer injuries are as terrifying as they are rare,” the group said in a statement. “Sharks ‘test the waters’ with their teeth, much like we use our hands. It is how they determine if what they encounter is prey or something to avoid.”

The attack happened about three miles from where two great white sharks were spotted last week. The sightings prompted officials to close Head of the Meadow Beach temporarily.

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In 2012, a swimmer was attacked by a great white shark off Ballston Beach in Truro.