Mon, Aug 03, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Australian beaches remain closed after new shark sightings

AFP, SYDNEY

Several beaches on the east coast of Australia were closed yesterday after fresh shark sightings, as authorities warned swimmers to be vigilant following an attack that left a surfer with serious arm and leg injuries.

Beaches in Ballina, where a bodyboarder was severely injured by a shark last month and a Japanese surfer was killed in February, stayed closed after sightings this weekend, Surf Life Saving New South Wales said.

“There were a couple of sightings yesterday of quite large sharks so they closed the [beaches],” a spokeswoman for the organization told reporters of the Ballina region, a popular spot about 740km north of Sydney.

“Our volunteers ... went out this morning and saw another large shark near Lighthouse Beach,” she said.

Beaches near Evans Head, where a 52-year-old surfer was bitten on Friday, were reopened, but state police advised those entering the water to “remain vigilant.”

The surfer, named in local media as Craig Ison, punched a shark after being attacked about 100m offshore at Evans Head just south of Ballina.

He suffered bite wounds to his legs and hands and has since been hospitalized for surgery.

Authorities said the presence of baitfish was attracting sharks to Ballina and nearby areas.

The beach closures come just over a week after a scallop diver was killed by a shark off Maria Island in the southern state of Tasmania as his daughter watched.

Experts say attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular, but fatalities remain rare.

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