Surfer spots 2.5m great white shark 100m from shore
A CABARITA surfer is spending a couple of days out of the water after photographing a 2.5-metre great white shark just 100 metres from shore while fishing in a boat on Saturday morning.
It's Stu Aston's first great white sighting after 30 years of fishing and surfing in the area.
"While coming back from fishing Black Rocks, my mate Jason and I came across this eight-foot white pointer in-between Cabarita Beach and Kingscliff," Mr Aston said.
"Often you see the odd tiger out there, but this was definitely a great white.
"We were only 100 metres off the shoreline when we sighted it, and we followed the shark for around 15 minutes.
"The shark was north of Cabarita and heading north.
"It was hugging the coast the whole way."
Mr Aston alerted the Volunteer Marine Rescue at Point Danger to notify Kingscliff surf lifesavers.
"We followed the shark for a while until it headed out to sea," he said.
"The boat didn't even worry it. It was inquisitive.
"I've surfed and fished this coastline for many years and this is the first white pointer I have ever seen."
Mr Aston thinks the abundance of bait fish and whales in the area is attracting the great whites.
"There was a mile of bait fish at Black Rocks.
"And it's whale season, which the whites usually follow."
Recent attacks on surfers further south and numerous sightings of great whites near Ballina are concerning for beach-goers, as well as authorities tasked with keeping people safe in the water.
Mr Aston said surfing at netted beaches wouldn't make him feel safer.
"Nets wouldn't give me any more security," he said.
"With this much activity, (a shark attack is) on your mind but it is a rarity.
"After so many years, you become blase about (the danger).
"I've definitely got more respect ... this was only a small great white."
While Mr Aston's mates have seen great whites in the ocean around Cabarita and Kingscliff, he was amazed by his first sighting.
"It would have been a different matter if I'd been sitting on a surf board," he said.
"I think I will put my board back in the shed for a couple of days.
"I'll give it a few days before I get in the water."
At Ballina, beaches reopened on Monday morning after a weekend that included several shark sightings off the coast following the attack on Evans Head surfer Craig Ison at Evans main beach on Saturday.
Mr Ison remains in a critical condition in Gold Coast University Hospital, where he was transported on Saturday after his condition worsened following emergency surgery at Lismore Base Hospital on Friday.
Swimmers and surfers were advised to remain vigilant while in the water.
Shark attacks and sightings in recent weeks on the North Coast have inflamed debate about how to protect swimmers and surfers.
Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright is in favour of aerial surveillance and there are calls from some members of the public to install nets to keep the sharks away from beaches.
At present, shark nets in NSW are in place from Wollongong to Newcastle only.
Nets have been installed on Gold Coast beaches, beginning at Point Danger.