"There was a lot of thrashing and splashing and a lot of blood."
A surfer has been airlifted to hospital after being hit by a shark on that gorgeous sandspit called Belongil, which you can access as you leave Bryon Bay to the north-west.
The forty-one-year-old from Suffolk Park, a sort of gentrified surfer ghetto just south of town, was surfing just after sunrise when he was bitten on the thigh by what is being called a baby Great White (so little but so feisty). He paddled to the beach, told other surfers, the paramedics were called and he was treated at the scene while they waited for the bird to take him to the Gold Coast.
“There was a lot of thrashing and splashing. He started screaming, we didn’t realise until we paddled back to the beach that there was a big chunk taken out of his leg. There was a lot of blood, a lot of bleeding. The bleeding was pretty bad. We didn’t see the shark but a bloke who was out there earlier said he saw a fin and he reckons it was a juvenile Great White.”
A pal, Dane Davidson, said he and the attackee, who hasn’t been named, had just paddled out when the shark hit from below.
“There was a lot of thrashing and splashing. He started screaming, we didn’t realise until we paddled back to the beach that there was a big chunk taken out of his leg. There was a lot of blood, a lot of bleeding. The bleeding was pretty bad. We didn’t see the shark but a bloke who was out there earlier said he saw a fin and he reckons it was a juvenile Great White. I was freaking. When I heard the screams he was making in the water and then I saw a chunk of his board floating off, that’s when I realised it was pretty bad. He was conscious but … his eyes were drifting around a bit, he seemed a bit dizzy. He was saying his breathing was labouring … overall I think he was alright, he was just in a bit of shock.”
Davidson and other surfers used leg-ropes as tourniquets.
“Hopefully that prevents him from losing (his leg),” said Davidson.
All nearby beaches have been closed for twenty-four hours.
It’s very difficult to un-attach one’s lips from the teat of shark fever in Byron Bay. Every day, some new angle, some new bump, attack or theory or sightings.
Owen and Tyler Wright’s Lennox Head-based dad, Rob, told The Australian a few years ago: “We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re all over it. We live up up here and we surf up here, but this is all we’re thinking about. The married guys, they’re not allowed to go surfing. The young guys with kids, they’re thinking about it all the time. Everybody is.”
According to the story, “Wright has had two sharks swim beneath his board in recent weeks. One — ‘a fricken big thing’ about 4m long with a pointy head and wide body — was chasing a fish at full speed. “It was flying, but it wasn’t after me, thankfully.”
A pro surfer whom I know reasonably well moved to Byron Bay and when I asked him about the sharks, he shook his head and told me, “Oh man…every…day…”
More, if there is more to this than a leg bite, as it comes.