Shark strands students on Byron beach

By RACHEL AFFLICK rachel.afflick@northernstar.com.au "IT WAS so scary." That's how Byron Bay High School students Jett Coates and Caitlin Robinson, both 14, described their nightmare ordeal yesterday after being stranded in the ocean by a circling shark.

The girls were diving off a protruding piece of The Wreck, north of Byron Bay's Main Beach, when Jett spotted something in the water. They were still standing on the shipwreck, clear of the water, when Jett sounded the alarm.

"I was just about to jump off and Jett yelled 'Watch out! There's a shark!'" Caitlin said. "We couldn't see it for a while then it came under us again."

The girls stood clinging to each other on the precarious platform for about half an hour as they awaited rescue. Caitlin said all she could think about was keeping her balance, as waves and gusts of wind knocked against the shipwreck.

"It was so hard to stand all that time. I was shaking so much," Caitlin said. A surfer on a malibu board paddled out to try to help but the girls were too scared to move.

The surfer alerted surf lifesavers who reached the girls by boat, delivered them safely back to shore, then warned other swimmers to get out of the water.

"I'm shaking so much," Caitlin said, as her feet touched the sand.

They couldn't estimate the size or the type of shark it was. Only that it looked 'big'. There have now been more than 30 sightings of sharks at Byron Bay in the past month, many of which have caused beach closures. There have also been two attacks.



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