Surfer describes moment shark attacked at Ballina beach
UPDATE 5.30pm: SURFER Scott Crump has described the moment a perfect morning surf became a nightmare when a shark attacked a man at Sharpes Beach.
Scott Crump, surfboard shaper from Sollife, was surfing at the beach this morning when the attack happened.
He said it was the most beautiful day - small waves, few surfers, no bait ball, and a lot of dolphins, a day when "it shouldn't have happened".
He was in the surf when a man on another set 30-50 metres away screamed and was thrown from his board.
"No question about it," Mr Crump said. "It was 100% a shark.
"It came up and hit the board where the fins are ... it annihilated the board ... it launched him.
"His friend yelled 'shark' and everyone got out of the water. He was really spooked because he had to swim back to his board."
Mr Crump said when they got back to the carpark he noticed rips on the back of the victim's wetsuit on his calf, and found just a couple of puncture wounds.
"I expected worse," Mr Crump said. "It was a spinout.
"He was super lucky to only get some stitches after that."
UPDATE: 4:30PM: Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Doug Conners responded to questions about today's shark attack.
He said, "At approximately 11.30 am this morning a 24-year old man Brunswick Heads was surfing with a couple of friends at Sharpes Beach just north of Ballina.
"It is reported he was only surfing about 20 metres from shore in shallow water when he was a hit from below and knocked off his board.
"At that stage the man realised he's been hit by a shark he was able to scramble back on his board and himself and a number of other surfers paddled their way to shore.
"The surfer realised at that stage that he had received a puncture wound to his lower right leg.
"At that stage the injured man and his friends made their way too Ballina Hospital where he received treatment for the injury.
"The man was fortunate. The board has absorbed the majority of the bite and he has received what appears to be just a puncture wound.
"Police have obtained photographs of the bite marks and will be liaising with shark experts from Primary Industries to see if they can give us any indication of the size and species of the shark involved
"Surf Life Saving were activating and immediately deployed assets on water. Their crews haven't reported any sightings since the attack.
"They will continue to patrol this afternoon and tomorrow.
"As a result of the attack, and in consultation with council and Surf Life Saving, Police have made the decision to close the beaches for a 24-hour period from 1.30PM today.
"This closure will be effective on all beaches in the Ballina Shire and police will be reassessing that at 1.30PM tomorrow afternoon.
UPDATE 2.45pm: NEWS.com are reporting a witness account of the shark incident this morning, when he saw the victim launched in the air.
The website reports surfboard shaper Scott Crump saying: "He screamed loudly and I knew something was really wrong, then his friends were calling out to everyone to paddle in."
UPDATE 2.30pm: POLICE media have said inquiries are continuing after a man was bitten while surfing at Ballina today.
About 11.30am, police were called to the hospital where a 25-year-old man presented with a small wound to his right lower leg.
He has told police that he had been surfing with friends for around two hours when he felt something bump his board before he fell into the water at Sharpes Beach.
The injured man made his way to hospital and was taken to Ballina Hospital by friends.
Police are working with authorities to determine what species might have bitten the man.
At this time, all beaches in the Ballina Shire have been closed for 24 hours.
UPDATE 2.10pm: SURF Life Saving NSW are reporting a man was surfing in a group at Sharpes beach when he was bumped by a shark shortly before midday.
He was able to transport himself to hospital for further treatment.
As a result of the incident, Lifeguards, Police, and Council have closed all beaches across the area.
Warnings signs have been erected and Lifeguards will remain on-scene to alert beachgoers. People are encouraged to avoid Sharpes Beach.
Lifeguard assets including a Jet Ski from nearby Lennox Head are currently conducting a sweep of the area.
The species of the shark involved is not known and the matter has been referred to the NSW Department of Primary Industries for further investigation.
A decision on when to reopen the beaches will be made tomorrow in consultation with all stakeholders.
UPDATE 1.45pm: Ballina Shire Council wishes to advise that all beaches in Ballina Shire are closed for 24-hours following a shark encounter today Wednesday 12 October at Sharpes Beach Skennars Head.
Beach closure signage will be placed at all Ballina Shire beaches. The community are reminded that the closures are enforceable and extend from Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head to South Ballina Beach, South Ballina.
UPDATE 1.30PM: A SURFBOARD rider presented himself to Ballina hospital with a single puncture wound to the leg.
There was significant damage done to the board.
A North Coast Area Health spokesman said they were minor injuries with one or two stitches and won't be admitted to hospital.
Police have shut down the beach while they investigate the incident.
INITIAL: EARLY reports of a shark attack happening at Sharpe's Beach, Skennar's Head are filtering in.
The victim seems to be okay, according to these reports.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is waiting to hear more.
More information as it comes to hand.