A British businessman escaped a brush with death after he was bitten by a shark off the Galapagos Islands coast.

Andrew Newman, 45, had been snorkelling with a group of friends near Santa Fe when the "four-metre" shark swam up behind him and bit down on his right foot.

The London-based entrepreneur, who claims to have a "wretched fear" of sharks, says he was only able to free his foot from the predator's deadly jaws after repeatedly striking it in the face. The attack resulted in three severed ligaments and a broken leg.

"I punched him, Go Pro in hand, harder and harder until he let go," he said. "I just went into automatic mode."

"Half of my foot looked like it was hanging off," he said. "I didn't feel any pain when I saw my bones and tendons. I could just see the blood pumping."

Newman was then forced to endure a three-hour boat ride to the nearest hospital as a medic attempted to stem his bleeding.

Doctor Kathryn Gilbert, 27, who previously worked as an emergency specialist at St. George's Hospital in London, was at hand to assist him during the journey.

She said: "It was quite the experience, as unsurprisingly I've never dealt with a shark bite working in the UK.

"I just found some strong painkillers and tried to stop the bleeding which we eventually managed with a bandage and a lot of towels."

Newman, who is still recovering in hospital, organisied his trip following the unexpected death of his husband in 2016. He says the traumatic event of being "face to face" with a shark will never leave him.

"When I close my eyes, all I can see is the shark's white eye and my foot in his mouth," he told the Evening Standard.

"What I ultimately found was how precious my life is and how happy I am to be alive."

The islands are renowned for their range of diverse wildlife but are also home to the Galapagos Shark. The fearsome predator hunts in shallow coral reef and sometimes grows to three metres-long.

According to Shark Attack Data website, there have only been eight recorded attack on humans by sharks in Ecuador since 1954.