Man uses surf­board to fight off shark at Bal­lina on NSW north coast

The Guardian Australia - - Front Page -

A man has used his surf­board to fend off a shark af­ter be­ing at­tacked in wa­ters off Bal­lina on the New South Wales north coast.

The 43-year-old was bit­ten on his calf at Shelly beach about 7am on Wed­nes­day and is be­ing treated at Lis­more hos­pi­tal, NSW po­lice said.

The Bal­lina shire mayor, David Wright, said the surfer said the shark was about 1.5 me­tres long.

“It grabbed him on the leg and pulled him off the board,” Wright told Syd­ney’s 2GB ra­dio. “He used the board to belt the shark away.

“He came on­shore, wrapped his leg up and went to Bal­lina hos­pi­tal. He’s now been trans­ferred to Lis­more hos­pi­tal. He’s got an eight-inch [20cm] cut on his calf.”

The at­tack fol­lows the death on Mon­day of a Mel­bourne doc­tor, Daniel Chris­tidis, who was mauled by a shark at Cid har­bour in the Whit­sun­day Is­lands, on the first day of a five-day yacht­ing hol­i­day with friends and col­leagues.

On Wed­nes­day the Queens­land gov­ern­ment said it would put up per­ma­nent signs telling peo­ple to stay out of the wa­ter at Cid har­bour. It is the third se­ri­ous shark at­tack there in two months af­ter a Tas­ma­nian woman, Jus­tine Bar­wick, and a Mel­bourne girl, Han­nah Papps, were bit­ten in sep­a­rate at­tacks in Septem­ber.

Tem­po­rary warn­ing signs will be up by the week­end and the Queens­land fish­eries min­is­ter, Mark Furner, said per­ma­nent signs would be in place within weeks.

“We can’t be clearer: don’t swim in Cid har­bour,” Furner said. “As lo­cal char­ter op­er­a­tors have ad­vised, Cid har­bour is pri­mar­ily a site for moor­ing. The dis­posal of food scraps can at­tract sharks and that means no one should swim in Cid har­bour un­der any cir­cum­stances.”

Chris­tidis, 33, was a urol­o­gist at Mel­bourne’s Austin Health and its spokes­woman said staff were be­ing of­fered coun­selling.

Queens­land’s Lib­eral Na­tional op­po­si­tion has called for drum­lines to be in­stalled at Cid har­bour im­me­di­ately but the Palaszczuk gov­ern­ment has so far said lo­cals do not want them.

“Nei­ther the lo­cal mayor [of Whit­sun­day re­gional coun­cil], An­drew Will­cox, ma­rine au­thor­i­ties nor lo­cal tourism op­er­a­tors want to see drum­lines re­de­ployed,” the state tourism min­is­ter, Kate Jones, said. “They want re­in­forced mes­sag­ing and that’s what we’re do­ing.”

A ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist, Blake Chap­man, said: “We need to be look­ing at the bait­fish move­ment, we need to be look­ing at the wa­ter con­di­tions ... [and] any other fac­tors that might be hap­pen­ing in that area that is ob­vi­ously chang­ing shark ac­tiv­ity.

“Be­cause two months ago this wasn’t an is­sue. It was pretty much un­heard of in that area, so some­thing has changed and that’s what we need to be fig­ur­ing out.”

The Tourism Whit­sun­days chief ex­ec­u­tive, Natas­sia Wheeler, said her in­dus­try sup­ported ef­forts to let vis­i­tors know about the dan­gers of sharks in the area.

Beaches around Bal­lina are ex­pected to be closed for at least 24 hours af­ter a re­quest from po­lice. NSW Surf Life Sav­ing will fly a drone to sur­vey the area, and of­fi­cers from the NSW pri­mary in­dus­tries de­part­ment – which is re­spon­si­ble for shark man­age­ment – are head­ing to the area.

Shark nets at Shelly beach and four oth­ers on the north coast were re­moved in May af­ter a nearly five­month NSW gov­ern­ment trial. The at­tack comes al­most four years af­ter a Ja­panese surfer, Tadashi Naka­hara, was killed by a shark on the same beach.

Pho­to­graph: Chris Hyde/Getty Im­ages

Shelly beach and oth­ers around Bal­lina in north­ern New South Wales have been closed af­ter a surfer was bit­ten by a shark on Wed­nes­daymorn­ing.

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