- A great white shark was seen off Lighthouse Beach in Ballina, on the NSW North Coast, a short time after a teenage boy was bitten on the leg while surfing, police say.
Cooper Allen, 17, is recovering in Lismore Base Hospital after he was attacked while surfing with a friend at the beach about 9am on Monday, the first day of the school holidays.
A 17-year-old surfer has been rushed to hospital after suffering a shark bite at Lighthouse Beach in the Northern NSW suburb of Ballina. Vision courtesy ABC News 24
Cooper’s friend helped him to shore, where an off-duty nurse gave him first aid for deep wounds to his right upper thigh.
NSW Ambulance paramedics then took Cooper to hospital, where he was in a stable condition, police said.
Chief Inspector Nicole Bruce, from the Richmond Local Area Command, said a four-metre great white shark had been sighted further off Lighthouse Beach just after the attack, but it was not clear whether the same shark had bitten the teenager.
“They were surfing, so we’ve got the surfboard and the bite marks will be analysed by the Department of Primary Industries and we can make an assumption about the shark, but that’s all it will be,” she said.
Two months ago, Cooper spoke to The Australian about plans to install an eco-friendly shark barrier at Lighthouse Beach. Those plans were scrapped last month due to ongoing rough sea conditions at the beach.
Cooper said at the time that he thought the shark barrier was a waste of money.
“We still go out there without the net, at our own choice. I don’t think there is any need for it,” he said.
Images shared by the Department of Primary Industries on its SharkSmart Twitter account show lifesavers pushing a great white shark, described as being 3.5-metres long, out to sea not long after the attack.
The shark, sighted off the beach where a teenager was attacked on Monday.
The shark, sighted off the beach where a teenager was attacked on Monday. Photo: Twitter/SharkSmart
A Surf Life Saving NSW spokesman said all beaches in the Ballina Shire – Lennox Head, Sharpes Beach, Shelly Beach (Ballina) and Lighthouse Beach – had been closed and would remain so for at least 24 hours following the attack.
The attack occurred on the first day the beach was patrolled by lifeguards for the 2016/17 season, the spokesman said.
He said other surfers helped the injured teenager, who suffered “severe lacerations to his leg”, to the beach after the attack, and lifeguards evacuated the water.
“A NSW Department of Primary Industries helicopter has been diverted to the area for aerial surveillance, while the Ballina Lifeguard jet-ski is conducting roving patrols on the water as are other surf lifesaving assets,” the spokesman said.
“The species of shark involved in the incident is not yet known and DPI scientists will investigate further.”
The NSW government last year mounted a series of shark attack prevention measures, including a tagging and tracking program, in northern NSW waters after a number of shark attacks, including at Lighthouse Beach.
Champion surfer Sam Morgan sustained a serious bite wound to his left thigh when he was attacked by a suspected bull shark at Lighthouse Beach in November last year.
In February last year, 41-year-old Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara died from severe blood loss after a great white shark bit him on the leg at Shelly Beach, just north of Lighthouse Beach.
There have been 19 shark attacks between Byron Bay and Evans Head between 2000 and 2015. Four of those were at Lighthouse Beach and two at Lennox Head.
Great news that there was a nurse there to do first aid for this young lad. It seems as though every week we are hearing of another shark attack. Hopefully this summer is quiet. Please make sure you book in to a first aid course in Canberra so that you are prepared for the summer.