Beachgoers in the Urunga area are being urged to avoid the water for at least the next 24 hours after a surfer encountered a shark this morning.
The local man was surfing at an isolated location near the northern end of the river mouth when he saw what he believed to be a fin at around 6:15am today.
A spokesperson from Surf Life Saving NSW clarified that the spot was between Hungry Head Beach and North Beach.
“The surfer has accessed a very isolated location from the boardwalk and paddled north of the river bar to a surf break about 200 metres north.
“His location was 4km south of Bellinger Valley North Beach Surf Club, which is technically the southern tip of North Beach.”
Both North Beach and Hungry Head Beach are closed for 24 hours.
Fortunately the surfer wasn’t injured in the incident but there was a bite mark left behind on his surf board.
Photographs of the board have been sent to NSW Department of Primary Industries scientists who will attempt to identify the species of shark involved.
Bellingen Shire Council has been informed of the incident with surf lifesaving assets in the area including the drone made available for surveillance duties if required.
Patrols at the beach recently concluded following the ending of the school holiday period, and Urunga Surf Life Saving Club has erected warning signs at the beach to alert the public to the danger.
“At this stage the warning signs are only on the Hungry Head side as it’s the closest road access point (2km) vs North Beach (4km) to the scene where the incident occurred, and it was determined that the greatest number of people would likely come from that side of the beach, as did the surfer himself,” the Surf Life Saving NSW spokesperson said.
The signs are set to remain in place until at least Tuesday and beachgoers are strongly encouraged to swim at Coffs Harbour, which is the nearest patrolled location during the week.
Volunteer surf lifesavers will continue to patrol local beaches on weekends and public holidays until the end of the season in late April.
Measures to Minimise the Risk of Shark Encounters
* Tell a lifesaver or lifeguard if a shark is spotted near swimmers or surfers.
* Don't swim too far from shore.
* Swim in groups.
* Avoid swimming and surfing when it's dark or during twilight hours.
* Avoid murky water, waters with known effluents or sewage.
* Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishers.
* Avoid areas with signs of baitfish or fish feeding activity; diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity.
* Do not rely on sightings of dolphins to indicate the absence of sharks; both often feed together on the same food.
* Be aware that sharks may be present between sandbars or near steep drop offs.
* Avoid swimming in canals, and swimming or surfing in river/harbour mouths.
* Avoid having pets in the water with you.
* Do not swim/surf near or interfere with shark nets