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Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

Renewed calls to stay out of the water after shark attack

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41-year-old Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a shark on Monday. (supplied)
41-year-old Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a shark on Monday. (supplied)

Update 3pm: Lifeguards have renewed their plea not to swim at Ballina beaches following Monday’s fatal shark attack.

Australian Lifeguard service (ALS) advised media this afternoon that beaches across the shire will remain closed for the remaincer of the day with conditions to be reassessed on Thursday morning.

A decision to reopen Lennox Head Main Beach, the only beach currently patrolled by the ALS in Ballina shire, has been postponed due to dangerous surf conditions.

Following Monday’s fatal shark attack at Shelly Beach, Ballina lifeguards have been assisting NSW Police and other emergency services in keeping Ballina’s beaches clear whilst attempts to locate the shark were undertaken.

These unsuccessful efforts were abandoned on Tuesday evening after a period of 48 hours without a confirmed sighting. There have been some reports of shark sightings by members of the public but none have been confirmed by on-scene assets.

NSW ALS co-ordinator Brent Manieri said the decision to delay the re-opening of the beach was made in the interest of safety.

‘The decision to open a beach after a major incident involves a large number of stakeholders, and although the conditions are not as rough as they have been in recent weeks we felt conditions were still adverse enough to keep Lennox closed for at least the next 24 hours.

Mr Manieri also said that lifeguards will continue to work with NSW Police and other emergency agencies as required, and urged the public to report suspected shark sightings to lifeguards and lifesavers.

‘The co-operation with other emergency services is an important factor in the work we do, and we have seen the benefits of these strong relationships throughout this tragic incident.’

‘We are urging people to remain out of the water for the next 24 hours due to the conditions across Ballina Shire and once beaches reopen to choose a patrolled location where lifeguards are constantly surveying the conditions,’ he said.

Original report: A marine ecologist has warned surfers to stay out of the water as authorities continue to search for a great white shark that killed a man on Monday morning.

Southern Cross University researcher Daniel Burcher said warm water and runoff from rainfall was attracting small fish, which were in turn attracting sharks closer to the shoreline.

The warning comes after 41-year-old Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a shark that tore his legs off at Shelly Beach, near Ballina.

It was Australia’s fourth fatal shark attack in five months.

Dr Bucher says recent rainfall meant food for fish was washed out from rivers to the ocean, drawing them in.

‘Don’t swim if you know there are plenty of baitfish around, especially if they are breaking the surface,’ he said on Tuesday.

‘It usually means something is chasing them from below.’

Dr Bucher said dusk and dawn were notorious for shark activity and also warned swimmers to avoid river mouths and stormwater drains after rain.

Shark expert Vic Hislop said heavy fishing was thinning out the ocean, leading sharks to hunt for food close to shore.

‘I’ve seen them change their diet … as we’ve thinned out all the fish. They’ve changed to dolphins, turtle, dugong,’ he said.

‘They won’t stop eating. They’ll just change their diet when the fish get thinned out.’

‘They’re coming in closer,’ he told Southern Cross Austereo.

Ballina mayor David Wright said one surfer had recognised the shark threat on Sunday evening and got out of the water.

‘He said he got out because there were baitfish, there were lots of fish going close to the edge of the water and sharks actually feed on that,’ he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

The surfers who were with Mr Nakahara said the shark was three to four metres long.

‘It came up behind and took his board and his legs,’ he said.

Rescuers took Mr Nakahara to shore and performed CPR but he died on the beach.

Meanwhile, the various authorities involved in searching for the shark are meeting this morning to assess surf and beach conditions.

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  1. Stop surfing because of the sharks ? Dr. Bucher lives in academic dreamland. The real danger time for sharks in this region is May / June when the mullet run reaches these waters. A proportion of the female great whites run up to Moreton Bay to give birth & they follow the mullet run up the coast which starts in Victoria this month. They’re eating what’s eating the mullet. They go into Moreton Bay via the northern tip of Moreton Island also a good surfing location. About 10 yrs back a surfer was taken off the Northern tip of Moreton Island & the other surfers in the water at the time retired to the beach until the board of the taken surfer had stopped toomb stoning, indicating that the white had finished lunch. Most of the surfers then returned to the ocean despite the police loud hailing them from choppers to get out of the water. Surfers are aware of the danger & willingly take the risk, It is, after all, better odds than whenever you venture onto the great killing fields any major highway.

  2. How many people died on the highway at the same time ?
    Get a grip, how about closing highway one ?
    it’s all very well for the ‘Australian Lifeguard service ‘ who are no more than the P.R division for the benefit of the tourist industry to strut and close beaches but the real world goes on regardless.

  3. Pristine fun surf conditions and a tragic end. This shark and many more are simply doing their natural thing of hunting and scavenging. This fish does not think or reason between right and wrong it exists to feed and breed.The Gt White is at the top of it’s domain and has very few natural threats to keep their numbers under control. As a protected species they have bred to large numbers, not unlike the crocodile in the Northern Territory, which is now a constant risk to many humans in that part of Australia.There are all sorts of arguments about what to do but the short answer is constant aerial patrols throughout the year, input from fishermen and other’s who frequent the ocean regularly for the purpose of informing the public about seasonal movements and sightings and controlled fishing to reduce the numbers,especially the larger ones that pose a risk to surfers and others who simply wish to use the ocean for recreational activities and which is normally confined to within a few hundred meters off shore,if that.The number of people using the oceans/beaches is always increasing and so will the number of attacks.The ocean offers many therapeutic benefits to humans in this world and should be able to be enjoyed with a reduced risk of being attacked than what currently exists.,


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