BYRON Bay locals are in shock and disbelief following the fatal shark attack of 50-year-old Paul Wilcox on Tuesday, the president of the town's Chamber of Commerce said.
"We are in shock around town and there is strong feeling of sympathy for the man's family," Michael O'Grady, Byron United president said.
"As locals, we are all sea lovers here and we are in shock. I am a keen surfer, but I have never seen a shark when I have been surfing," he said.
The town may take a hit in visitor numbers following news of the shark fatality, Mr O'Grady predicted.
All beaches in Byron Shire from Broken Head to South Golden Beach remain closed until midday today.
"I imagine there will be some people who might pause in their intention to visit," Mr O'Grady said.
"However, the number of fatalities from sharks is very few. I think most people realise there is a risk you take when you enter the ocean."
The shark attack was foremost in the mind of tourists whom The Northern Star spoke with at Clarkes Beach yesterday.
"My husband was swimming at The Pass around 10.30 when it happened," Margaret Tacke from the Mornington Peninsula said.
She and her husband Siegfried were cycling back from The Pass when they heard the shark sirens on Tuesday.
"We rode our bikes back into town and saw the ambulances, but it wasn't until later that day we heard it had been a shark attack," she said.
"We were pretty shocked to think my husband was in the water at the same time.
"He's never thought about shark attacks here before. We've just travelled from Caloundra, where they have shark nets, and I know South Australia can be dangerous, but I think this is unusual for Byron Bay, especially at this time of year.
"Personally, it makes me think twice about swimming here. But it won't frighten my husband."
Tony and Jacquie Tilbury, of Melbourne, holidaying in Byron Bay with their two children Rory and Grace, said they were surprised there was not more signage up warning beachgoers there had been a shark attack.
"I honestly thought the beaches would have been patrolled here," Jacquie Tilbury said.
"That would make us feel a lot safer. And I thought they would have signs up along all of the entrances to the beach.
"We only go into the water up to our knees with the children, so it probably won't stop us from having a paddle."