Fresh attack as protesters rail against shark nets…
Do you remember, and you should because it wasn’t that long ago, when shark attacks were big news? Even a little snap on the leg’d run on the front page of the daily newspapers, the victim a sudden celebrity. A guy where I live in Sydney had a white eat his hand and he wrote a book about it.
If you live on that little stretch of coast from Ballina to Byron Bay, once known as the birthplace of soul surfing in Australia but now better known as the great white capital of the world, a reporter would hardly get his pen and notebook out unless it’s a fatality, or an amputation.
And, so, when a surfer got hit at Suffolk Park, on the southside of Cape Byron, a few hours ago, but was only bitten on the thigh… who cares?
Of course, there’s the issue of shark nets, an obvious solution to the absurd spike in attacks. In which case, the latest hit deserves note. Let’s examine.
Veteran surfers in northern NSW are “really shaken up” after another shark attack in their region this morning.
A surfer sitting with a group of about 15 others 200m from shore at Broken Head, south of Byron Bay, was bitten on the thigh.
He suffered puncture wounds and was able to get to shore and take himself to hospital.
The shark wrapped its mouth around his leg and the tail of his surfboard. As has been the case with several other recent attacks, it appears the fin of the man’s surfboard has discouraged the shark from biting harder, and swimming away.
“When he got hit, he started screaming to the others, ‘Shark!’,” said Byron Bay Boardriders president Neil Cameron, who had come in from a surf and was in the car park when the attack occurred.
He said the group of surfers who came in with the attack victim were “really shaken up”. He added that all the surfers in the region were tired of waiting for the government to act.
Belinda Holland, a witness, said she saw his board go “flying” in the attack.
“I’m pretty sure his board went flying into the air and he got … a chunk out of his leg and side. There was a lot of blood,” she told the Today show.
Robert Fenech, who was surfing at Broken Head this morning as well, said he was about 100m from where the man was attacked about 7.30am.
“There hadn’t been any waves for two weeks,” he said. “The internet says there’s surf, so we all went out there. It was packed. I go out there all the time.
“Everyone’s pretty vulnerable. It’s pretty close to home. There are so many girls and young guys,” he said. “We knew there were sharks there, but it’s the first time someone’s been snapped for a while.”
Mr Cameron told The Australian this morning that the local authorities now had two options. “One, they install nets and drumlines, like we’ve been saying they should; or, two, the council puts up signs saying ‘Do not enter the water’. That’s what it’s come down to. This is about protecting people who want to use the water at a major tourist destination.”
He said today’s attack was the “final nail in the coffin”.
He said that in the past, whenever there was an attack in the region, everybody knew there would not be another one for six or seven years. “But now, the next one could be this afternoon.”
He attributed the problem to local green politicians. “There is an extremely big and strong green factor in Byron Bay. There’s been a strong push by the average punter and the media to stop nets being put in.
“They have so-called experts, but they keep coming up with irrelevant facts. These experts don’t know as much as surfers and fishermen.
Ironically, if irony works any more, “hundreds” attended a protest against the installation of shark nets in Ballina yesterday.
“People want to see something that’s sustainable, that will keep ocean users safer, that’s not going to decimate our wildlife,” said Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith.
The always fabulous Nick Carroll debunks the hysteria about shark nets here.