Man uses surfboard to fight off shark at Ballina on NSW north coast
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.
Shelly beach and others around Ballina in northern New South Wales have been closed after a surfer was bitten by a shark on Wednesdaymorning.