Sam Morgan in induced coma at Gold Coast Hospital after being hit by a 10-footer…
Do you remember when shark attacks were one-offs? Curios?
Not so much anymore. And Ballina, on the North Coast of NSW, and part of the zeigeist-y Byron shire, has become the epicentre of shark strikes.
Late yesterday afternoon, the pro surfer Sam Morgan, 20, was hit on the thigh by a Bull shark at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina.
Richmond LAC Inspector Nicole Bruce said Sam was in the water alone at Lighthouse Beach when the attack occurred at about 6.20pm.
“A person on the beach heard him scream and saw him stumble out of the water,” she said. “He’s come out of the water with a large bite wound to his left thigh. A passerby has administered first aid, ambulance and police were on scene soon (after). It was quite a large bite, but at this stage he seems to be stable, so hopefully he will be okay. “
Sam is currently in an induced coma at Gold Coast Hospital.
I was surprised when I heard about the attack. Not cause of sharks. Those sons of bitches ain’t leaving. I just didn’t know anyone surfed at Ballina anymore. Everyone I talk to up there has pretty much shelved their boards, surfing only when the sun is high, and there’s enough of a crowd to reduce what have become high odds.
Four months ago, bodyboarder Matt Lee was hit by a 15-foot White.
In 2008, another bodyboarder was killed there.
In February this year, the Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara died when he was hit by a suspected Great White at the next beach.
Last September, a swimmer died in waist-deep water when he was hit by a suspected Great White just near the Pass in Byron.
Anyway, I received this email from a local surfer and surf industry worker Shayne Banks last night. Seems to sum up the mood. He gave me permission to reprint below.
You may have already heard but there has been another shark attack at North Wall, Ballina late this afternoon. The victim was young local guy Sam Morgan.
I am feeling sick and wanted to write something so here you go; even before this last attack, twice on Saturday 7th November the North Wall crowd was sent in due to a 3-4 meter Great White swimming under people.
I work at Alkali Fins in Ballina and had my life all set up around surfing, now it centres around work. I knew and surfed with Tadashi and we fixed his dings at Alkali. I have known Matt Lee for 15 years and spent countless hours surfing with him and many couch session with his solid crew of mates. While he was a bodyboarder at heart he stood up on fibreglass and surfed pretty well whenever the waves were not slabbing.
Leelee’s attack really rattled me; the last surf I had had before that happened ended with me being chased in at Broken Head. A shark fin appeared in the wave and was moving very aggressively left to right and then right again about 20 meters in front of me. By the time I had processed what I had seen the wave was on me. I turned and rode that sucker to the beach. The next day I was on my way to surf fun little lefts at Sharpes, I was just out of Lennox when over Triple JJJ I hear that there has been another attack at North Wall. Sharpes is looking really fun as I drive past but is completely empty with only two guys looking like they are about to paddle out. I drive to work and don’t even stop. At work I learn that the victim is Matt Lee and that he is critical.
Seeing him at the pub the other day for his fundraiser was great but also pretty confronting as I could see first hand tooth mark scars on his legs.
I have surfed twice since Matt got bitten. Once was when my dad was up from South Oz and keen to head out for a wave. It was a full-moon and we surfed in a sea of bait fish and dolphins. One other day at Broken Head I got a few fun little peaks but it was still spooky. I don’t even know how long it has been and I don’t care to count. After living at North Wall for 5 years and surfing it pretty much every single morning that I could between 2001 -2006, surfing in Ballina may well be over for me.
I don’t know; I could write more but I am kind of trembling as I type. Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk further about the situation here and the atmosphere among the surfing community.
Read more about the attack and the council’s response here.
Sam Morgan – Far Nth Coast from Webster Surfboards on Vimeo.