Shark! Hundreds evacuated at Byron
By RACHEL AFFLICK email@example.com KIDS participating in a surf sports day were among the hundreds of people told to get out of the water after another series of shark sightings at Byron Bay beaches.
Sydney lifeguard Garren Moran was surfing at The Pass at 10.30am when he noticed people standing on the headland above him pointing and yelling 'shark, shark!'
He then saw a two-metre shape less than a metre from him in the water.
"I saw it in the comer of my eye. Then I saw the pectoral fins down the side and the shape of the nose and I knew it was a shark," Garren said.
"I got out of the water fast." Everyone came up to me and said you're lucky you've got all your fingers and toes, you surfed right over it."
It was just one of several shark scares yesterday that forced beach closures.
The most dramatic coincided with an annual School Surf League event.
A group of 150 students from high schools between Nambucca and Tweed Heads had converged on Byron Bay's Main Beach to participate in a surf sports day.
But even before competition kicked off at 9am, the swimmers were pulled from the water after a Byron Bay surf lifesaver saw a three-metre shark north of the competition area, near The Wreck.
About 50 kids were in the water when the alarm sounded. Event co-ordinator Bryan Lyndon said because the students were involved with surf clubs, they knew what to do when they heard the alarm.
"As soon as they knew it was a shark they were out of the water very quickly," he said.
Lynton Hurt, 16, of Kingscliff, was swimming about 50 metres out when the siren went off.
"Everyone was making jokes but we all got out pretty quickly once we realised it was a shark," he said.
"I got on my friend's board and he doubled me in. I'm going to be thinking about sharks all day now."
Surf lifesavers followed the shark for about five minutes. When they lost sight of it, the competition was allowed to get under way.
But less than two hours later, a second shark sighting was reported, and the kids had to be evacuated again.
This time Melbourne tourists Andrew Lowcock and James Hayter raised the alarm after spotting fins in the water near The Wreck.
There have been 30 shark sightings and two attacks in the past month.
On Thursday, two teenage girls were stranded on a protruding piece of the shipwreck north of Byron Bay's
Main Beach as a shark circled below. The girls stood on the platform for half an hour while awaiting rescue.
Researchers say colder than normal water temperatures and an abundance of bait fish are bringing sharks close to the shore.