Shark attack warning
TWO shark attacks on the Mid North Coast in the space of a week have prompted a warning to surfers not to take to the water on dusk or dawn, in floodwaters and near river mouths.
Despite the shark attack on Lisa Mondy, 24, while wakeboarding off Jimmys Beach, Port Stephens, last week, and Wednesday’s incident where Dave Pearson, 48, was bitten on the arm surfing off Headland Beach, Crowdy Head, history shows encounters are rare on our coastline.
The international shark attack register shows since colonisation to last year there have were 390 reported attacks in NSW, 114 of which were fatal and 192 where injuries occurred.
A further 82 encounters were recorded where swimmers and surfers were harassed by sharks – often due to cases of mistaken identity.
Last year there were just six shark attacks between Tweed Heads and Port Stephens, none of which was fatal.
Mia Merlin, 7, suffered lacerations to her legs when she was attacked in Cudgen Creek on January 20, 2010. Dean Everson fought off a shark while bodyboarding at Turner’s Beach, Yamba, on February 6.
Craig Gibson was bitten to the calf while kite surfing at Point Plomer near Crescent Head on May 5.
Rick Carroll had a brush with a shark while surfing at Crescent Head near the mouth of Killick Creek on August 8.
Jake Davies suffered a puncture wound to his leg when he was bitten while surfing near Fraser’s Reef, Iluka, on September 13.
And locally, the only reported shark attack on the Coffs Coast happened at Mullawarra Beach on October 9.
Surfer Kenny Turk was grabbed around the foot by a shark after he came off a wave and began paddling back into the line-up around 1.30pm.
He was left nursing a wound that required 63 stitches and researchers believe the bite wound came from a bull shark.
Historically, there have been just 11 fatal attacks recorded on the Mid North and Far North coasts in the past 148 years, caused by great white, tiger and bull sharks.
CSIRO shark researcher Barry Bruce, who has tagged great white sharks off Port Stephens since 2007, said attacks on the Mid North Coast were rare.
“Port Stephens has one of only two nursery areas on the eastern coast of Australia,” Mr Bruce said.
“The nursery runs from the middle of Stockton Beach up north to the middle of Mungo Brush.
"But despite how common they are in this region there has never been an attack by a juvenile shark, which makes the recent attack unusual."
In the wake of the attacks, Surf Life Saving has reminded beachgoers to swim and surf at patrolled beaches.
Don’t take to the water in areas known for sharks and never swim, dive or surf alone in dirty or turbid water.
Avoid swimming well offshore, near deep channels, at river mouths or along drop-offs to deeper water.
If schooling fish start to behave erratically or congregate in large numbers, leave the water.
Do not swim with pets and domestic animals.
Do not swim at dusk or at night.
Do not swim near people fishing or spear fishing.
If a shark is sighted in the area, leave the water quickly and calmly, and stay calm. However, if an attack is imminent disrupt the attack pattern by striking the shark’s nose, gouging at its eyes or make aggressive body movements.
THE SHARK ATTACK FILE:
FATAL ATTACKS ON THE FAR/MID NORTH COASTS, International Shark File.org
1863 – James Brown, Manning River, attacked on January 10 while bathing.
1871 – Unknown male, Manning River, remains were found, attacked to the legs.
1919 – James Ridley, Pelican Island, Macleay River, attacked on December 9 at 5.30am.
1923 – James Elton, Urunga, Bellinger River, attacked on November 3 while fishing.
1938 – Daniel Graham, North Beach, Bellinger River, attacked December 28.
1947 – Edwin Elford, Maria River, 12 miles from river mouth, attacked on November 8.
1963 – Shaun Wilmot, 25, Evans Head, attacked on January 26 while swimming.
1982 – Marty Ford, 20, Tallows Beach, Byron Bay, attacked on March 7 while surfing.
1993 – John Ford, 31, Julian Rocks, Byron Bay, attacked on June 9 while diving.
2001 – Arthur Applet, 75, Lord Howe Island, attacked on June 9 by a tiger shark.
2008 – Peter Edmonds, 16, North Wall Beach, Ballina, April 8 while body-boarding.