Mayor slams 'selfish' surfers after 60 bull sharks spotted off popular NSW beach
The mayor of NSW coastal town Ballina has slammed reckless surfers yesterday who stayed in shark infested waters after a large number of bull sharks were spotted at a popular beach.
The surf at Lighthouse Beach in Ballina was closed by police and the local council on Monday after a group of nearly 60 Bull sharks were spotted.
But despite the danger, the surf was too good to pass up for some.
Ballina Shire mayor David Wright said about 50 surfers remained in the water in defiance of orders from emergency services, The Northern Star reported.
"The surf was great but just (nearby), that's where a lot of the sharks were,” he said.
"Once again, we've got people, in my opinion, being selfish when they know that the sharks are there."
DPI aerial report: 60x 2m Bull Shark at NORTH WALL BREAK WALL, Ballina at 10:54 am on 10 Jun 2019. Beach Evacuated.Authorities Notified. pic.twitter.com/wR5604hgIl
— SharkSmart (@NSWSharkSmart) June 10, 2019
Volunteers on inflatable rescue boats and jet boats worked to notify those in the water about the closure and sounded an alarm from the shore.
A majority of surfers reportedly left the water.
Mayor Wright said authorities were concerned about the potential for tragedy to strike if people ignored the danger.
Pictures posted online by the NSW government’s SharkSmart showed a number of bull sharks in the area from about 8am Monday.
DPI aerial report: 2m Bull Shark at NORTH WALL BREAK WALL, Ballina at 08:08 am on 10 Jun 2019. pic.twitter.com/81JY9hFOQn
— SharkSmart (@NSWSharkSmart) June 9, 2019
The issue sparked debate on a local shark watching page on Facebook, with one user expressing frustration at the surfers who chose to stay in the water.
“If one of those surfers got eaten we would all be expected to spend a gazillion hours talking about the shark risk and what to do,” wrote one local woman. “[And] spend a whole bunch of taxpayer money on mitigation, yet when they are told of the risk they continue to surf.”
Plenty of locals turned up on Monday to catch a glimpse of the bull sharks as they fed on the outgoing tide.
Local lifesaver Garry Meredith said he had "never seen anything like it".
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