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Beaches open but surfers, swimmers cautious after attack

BYRON'S beaches are officially open again following Tuesday's shark attack that killed 50-year-old Paul Wilcox.

"The council acted quickly and pro-actively to close beaches in the area following the tragedy and our lifeguards have been on duty to assist DPI and monitor for any ongoing hazards in the area," said northern region lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney

The surf patrol season will officially start on Saturday September 20, but lifesavers and many lifeguard services will return to most beaches in the Northern Rivers this weekend.

Local surfers and swimmers have reacted cautiously after the shark attack.

"There are days when you won't go out - we call them "sharkie days", when the water is murky and it's overcast," Syl Reid, a member of the Winter Whales and the committee for the Ocean Swim Classic said.

"We swim at Main Beach every Sunday, but you don't think about sharks that much when you are out there.

"We're such a competitive bunch and there's a big group of us, so it's unlikely a shark would have a go at us.

"There is safety in numbers. If there's 20 of you swimming, you are much safer than if you are a lone swimmer or surfer. You are seen as more of a target on your own."

Neil Cameron of the Byron Bay Boardriders Club hits the surf every daybreak for two hours of surfing.

But on Wednesday morning after the fatal attack the day before at Clarkes Beach, he took a look at the water and decided against a morning surf.

"The surf wasn't looking good so I went with my gut instinct," Neil said.

"But I will be out there again."

Like many others dedicated to surfing, he believes the risks are worth it.

"People love surfing so much we just say 'que sera sera'."

"After this (attack) you are really aware that when you go into the water you are in the shark's environment and it can happen."

A poll running on this website shows just under a third of respondents fear being attacked by a shark while in the ocean.

However, 68% of the more than 700 people who have so far responded to the poll say they don't fear a shark attack, saying there is more chance of being hit by a car or being struck by lightning.

Topics:  attack, byron bay, editors picks, shark




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