Just a day after a large group gathered at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach to protest the installation of shark nets in the area and a week after Byron mayor Simon Richardson announced his opposition to such measures being introduced in the Byron shire, a surfer has been attacked while surfing at Broken Head this morning. The man, reported to be in his thirties, suffered puncture wounds to his thigh and has been treated for non life-threatening injuries at Byron Central Hospital.

According to Surf Lifesaving NSW, the attack occurred at 7:30am in the stretch of waves between Suffolk Park Beach and Broken Head. The shark is said to have attacked the man from underneath which in turn has led to his surfboard wearing the brunt of the impact, with a photo taken at the scene by Geoffrey Knapp showing damage to the board’s fin and rail.

Knapp, who was surfing just south of where the attack occurred and who helped apply first aid to the victim at the scene, told the ABC that the man was amidst a pack of fellow surfers when the incident took place and that initially he thought the group may have been spooked by some dolphins that were also in the water.

Photo Courtesy of Geoffery John Knapp

Another witness, Stuart Holland, who was watching his two children surf from the beach, described the scene that followed to ABC radio.

‘A group of surfers came up the beach and started to wave their boards around. At that point, we realised what was happening, and as they got closer we could see one of the guys was limping and there was a fair amount of blood coming down from his wetsuit.’

Following treatment at the scene by Knapp and a number of other surfers, the victim was then driven to Byron Central Hospital by a friend.

Surf Lifesaving NSW has since closed all beaches across Byron Bay for at least the next twenty-four hours and will be conducting sweeps across the beach throughout the day. The species of shark is yet to be identified and the incident has been referred to the NSW Department of Primary Industries for further investigation.

This morning’s incident signals the third non-fatal attack in the area between Ballina and Byron Bay in less than a month, with NSW Premier Mike Baird announcing just under a fortnight ago that shark nets will be trialled on Ballina’s beaches after succumbing to increased pressure from local residents demanding action on the issue. With this latest attack occurring in the adjacent Byron shire and sightings in the area happening on a fairly regular basis, it’ll be interesting to see if local surfers follow the lead of their neighbours in Ballina in calling for shark nets to be installed, or if they’ll seek another solution.

The Fatal Coast from Tracks Magazine on Vimeo.