A surfer was attacked by a shark at Lennox Point on Wednesday afternoon.
A surfer was attacked by a shark at Lennox Point on Wednesday afternoon. Cathy Adams

More sharks 'than we've had for a long time'

BALLINA'S mayor says Lennox Point has been "getting numerous hits on the shark alert system", explaining why the council was quick to close the beaches after Wednesday's shark encounter.

"We have a lot of tagged sharks picked up (on Wednesday), there numerous hits on the system, which is more than we've had for a long time," he said.

"So we took precautions and closed the beach in case something else did happen."

Cr Wright saw DPI have VR4G stations, one each at Lennox, Sharpes, Lighthouse and Shelly beaches which pick up any tagged sharks within 500m of the coast.

"There are 450-500 tagged sharks on the coast all together which DPI monitors," he said.

Meanwhile, the shark responsible for biting a surfer's hand at Lennox Head has been confirmed as a "non-dangerous whaler shark".

NSW Department of Primary Industries shark scientists confirmed a small whaler shark was responsible for a minor bite on a surfer's hand at Lennox Head yesterday. 


UPDATE, 1.58pm: BALLINA Shire beaches have now reopened.

The beaches were closed by Ballina Shire Council in conjunction with Surf Life Saving NSW and NSW Police yesterday due to a shark encounter at Lennox Head point.

Beachgoers are advised to follow the NSW SharkSmart Twitter feed or download the SharkSmart app for the latest information.


UPDATE, 12.30pm: A MARINE scientist has said the greatest danger from bitten by a wobbegong shark is not blood loss.

Southern Cross University's Associate Professor Daniel Bucher said the tapering teeth of the species meant infection was the most serious concern after a wobbegong bite.

"Wobbegong sharks live on the bottom of the ocean and feed by swallowing fish and other prey whole," he said.

"They have teeth which are tapering and designed to hold onto the struggling, slimy fish.

"So the nature of the wound because of those pointed teeth, tends to be shallow, really messy and bloody because the wobbegong thrashes about so infection can be serious."

Dr Bucher said sharks can be attracted to hands when surfers are paddling.

A surfer was bitten on the hand at Lennox Point on Wednesday afternoon.
A surfer was bitten on the hand at Lennox Point on Wednesday afternoon. Marc Stapelberg

He said the biggest danger, aside from infection, was not drowning when attacked.

"It can be hard to stay on the surface of the ocean if you have a large animal biting you," he said.

But the good news, according to Dr Bucher, is that robust shark numbers are indication of a healthy ocean.

"Sharks are apex predators and they require an intact eco-system at the lower levels," he said.

"So when sharks disappear it's a sign something is seriously wrong.

"Most apex species are long lived, slow to mature and reproduce and sharks have been disappearing because we are catching more."

According to the Australian Shark File compiled by Tarogona Conservation Society Australia, the last recorded attack by a wobbegong shark at Lennox was in February 2015 .


UPDATE, Thursday, 10.30am: A LEADING surfing club says the use of drumlines is effective in protecting surfers, despite yesterday's shark attack. 

Less than 24 hours after a man was bitten on the hand while surfing at Lennox Point, a Le-Ba Boardriders spokesman said he felt that current shark mitigation methods were proving effective.

"Provisions such as drumlines are working," he said.

"I had not heard about the attack and I don't know the surfer who was bitten by the shark."

Meanwhile, Surf Life Saving duty officer Chris Samuels said anyone looking to surf or swim at North Coast beaches should be reassured that shark encounters were less common then they may think.

"People need to keep in mind it is quite uncommon to have a shark encounter, that the water is still safe," he said.

"Having said that, I understand it may have been a wobbegong shark involved at yesterday's attack and they are generally shy and not aggressive and known to be threatening, like tigers or bull sharks, but they can inflict some damage and significant blood loss."

Mr Samuels said lifesavers are always vigilant in regard to shark encounters.

"As it is the off-season and our patrols finished after the April school holidays at Lennox, we urge people to go to the next patrolled beach which is at Byron Bay," he said.

"And as always, surf or swim within your limits, don't go out alone as conditions can change quite quickly and avoid the dusk and dawn as sharks can be active then."


UPDATE, Wednesday, 5pm: A WITNESS has described the moment she and her husband saw a surfer emerge from the water dripping with blood after being bitten by a shark today.

Nina Westover-Jones said she and her husband Bradley Jones were walking Sandy their American staffie at Lennox Point when they saw the man suddenly paddle toward the shore.

"We saw two lone surfers out there and watched them at Lennox Point for five or 10 minutes," she said.

"Then we saw this man come out of water and he ran down towards us and I could see he was bleeding.

"I asked him if he was OK and he said 'I've just been bitten by a shark'.

"He was cupping his left hand with his right and blood was pouring down and he had his board with him.".

Ms Westover-Jones said a woman who was walking by had a mobile phone and also offered assistance.

"The surfer asked us the name of the road and we said Bluefin Parade," she said.

"He seemed quite composed."

Ms Westover-Jones said her husband, who also surfs, described the conditions as, "big and lumpy swell".

"We saw another surfer out there by the yellow buoy and he suddenly started paddling away and we were a bit concerned so we called the surf club and the Ballina police as he was out there on his own," she said.

"Earlier we saw the injured man on his way down to the beach, he was wearing a full wetsuit and carrying a shortboard.

"I think he's been very, very lucky."


UPDATE, 3.27PM: FOLLOWING a shark encounter at Lennox Head Point, Ballina Shire Council, in conjunction with Surf Life Saving NSW and NSW Police have made the decision to close all Ballina Shire beach for 24 hours.

The community are reminded that the closures are enforceable and extend from Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head to South Ballina Beach, South Ballina. Beach signage is now being erected by Council crews along beach access points.

The council will provide a further update once beaches have reopened.


UPDATE, 2.37PM: THE surfer attacked by a shark today is in a stable condition.

A Northern NSW Local Heath District spokeswoman confirmed he is currently being treated Ballina Hospital. 

"A male aged 44 is at Ballina Hospital with laceration the right hands," she said.

"He is in a stable condition."


UPDATE, 2.06PM : A DECISION has yet to be made if the beach where a surfer was attacked earlier today will be closed.

Surf Life Saving duty office Chris Samuels said various stakeholders are currently in discussion over the incident.

"Local police, council and DPI are meeting as to where or not they will close the beach for 24 hours at Lennox Point," he  said.

"As soon as we know we will issue this information."


Update 2pm: AN AMBULANCE crew were called to attend a shark attack at Lennox Head today.

An Ambulance NSW spokesman they were alerted around 1.10pm.

"We sent one road ambulance crew to the beach," he said.

"But before they arrived the patient had left the scene and the crew were stood down."

More to come.


Original story: A SURFER has been bitten by a shark at a popular beach today.

Richmond Police Distict David Vandergriend said they had been alerted to the attack at Lennox Head around 1.30pm today.

"A surfer has had his hand bitten by a shark at Lennox Head," he said.

"The sufer has been taken to hospital by his friend and is does not appear to be a significant injury."

Insp Vandergriend said the fact the bite was small could indicate it was made by a smaller species of shark.

"As far as we know it is not a significant injury so it may be a wobbegong as opposed to a great white," he said.

"We are still in the early stages of the investigation."

More to come.

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