UPDATE 2.10pm: THE DEPARTMENT of Primary Industries has confirmed a great white shark was responsible for biting Arthur 'Woody' Vidgen's surf ski off Belongil beach yesterday.
A Spokeswoman said and expert had examined photos of the bite marks left on Woody's ski.
"A Department of Primary Industries shark expert has reviewed the bite pattern and determined that it was most likely a white shark involved in the incident," the spokeswoman said.
INITIAL REPORT: A BYRON Bay Surf Club veteran was attacked by a three-metre shark this morning while paddling his surf ski off Belongil Beach.
Arthur 'Woody' Vidgen said he was about one kilometre north of the surf club when he was hit by the shark while paddling 200 metres offshore.
"I was just paddling along the coastline about 200 metres out and I was heading back to the surf club at about 11.15am," he said.
"There was quite a bump and I got thrown off the ski and I just assumed I'd hit a pod of dolphins.
"There had been pods of dolphins about this morning off Main Beach."
The 71-year-old stalwart clambered back onto the ski, unaware he could have been in the water with a man-eater.
"I headed back to the surf club and then I noticed the ski was a little bit heavy and lifeguards came down to give me a hand," he said.
"Then we noticed the stern of the ski had a bite mark almost right around the whole boat.
"It would be 30 centimetres in diameter at least."
Once they spotted the bite mark, Woody said the lifesavers sprung into action.
"They straight away signalled to each other and put the jet ski in the water and rang their supervisor," he said.
"Their supervisor said we're closing the beach from The Pass to Main Beach and they drove along the beach as well as with the jet ski warning swimmers to get out of the water."
Beaches were reopened at 1.30pm.
In his 35-years as a Byron Bay Surf Club member, Woody said he had never had a similar encounter.
"No not at Byron," he said.
"It might be tailor season and the fish are running and the tailor are running and the sharks are coming in."
Lifeguards examined the ski and by the radius of the bite mark they estimated the shark to be three metres long.
Despite the scary experience, Woody said he would be back in the ocean paddling again soon.
"This was probably my first paddle in a month in the surf due to a back injury, but I've been paddling every day at Brunswick Heads and have no plans of stopping just yet," he said.