Organisers have called off the start of the six-day Oz Grom open for junior surfers at Lennox Head, just south of Byron Bay, after what appears to be a second shark attack on a surfer in 24 hours.
Yesterday body boarder Mathew Lee, 32, was bitten on the legs by a shark at Ballina’s main swimming spot, Lighthouse Beach, around 10am. He was rescued by friends and remains in a critical condition in a Gold Coast Hospital. Surgeons were able to save his legs.
It was the third attack in five months. Japanese national Tadashi Nakahara, 41, died following an attack on February 9, also at around 10am. That attack came just 24 hours after another surfer was bitten at Lennox Head.
While Ballina Council closed beaches as a precaution, and a shark was spotted just beyond the surf line by helicopters yesterday.
— Jess Millward (@JessMillward9) July 2, 2015
Surfing NSW decided to proceed with the Oz Grom Open today after conducting aerial and water surveillance at 6.45am. More than 300 junior surfers are due to compete in under-12, under-14 and under-16 divisions, as well as a World Surf League junior qualifying series event.
But that changed when a man emerged from the water around 10am today claiming to have been knocked from his board by a shark in white water off Lennox Head.
Due to a shark incident near Lennox Head this morning, Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Coolridge contest… http://t.co/Sbh9YeWX5q
— Surfing NSW (@surfingnsw) July 3, 2015
The man, known only as Steve, was not injured, but photos of a large bite marks on the back of his board have appeared on social media.
— Katrina Blowers (@katrinablowers) July 2, 2015
— Joel Dry (@JoelDry9) July 2, 2015
Oz Grom Open organiser Cameron Lindsay said that after the latest incident it would be unsafe to continue to run today.
“Due to a surfer being knocked from his board by a shark this morning at nearby Lennox Point, the event committee, Surf Life Saving and the police have made the decision to put the Skullcandy Oz Grom Open on hold for the rest of the day,” he said.
A shark was spotted a few hundred metres off Boulder Beach, the jump off point for surfers at Lennox Head, after local lifesavers dispatched water craft to investigate.
Surfing NSW will reconsider whether to continue the contest tomorrow.
“We will continue to monitor the beaches in the Ballina Shire, both from the air and the water over the course of the next 24 hours and make the safest call for all competitors tomorrow morning,” Cameron Lindsay said.
Beaches in the Ballina Shire will remain closed for the next 24 hours.
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