Tiger sharks force Lennox beach closures
By HANNAH ROSS
TIGER sharks lurking off the coast at Lennox Head forced authorities to close Seven Mile Beach for three hours on Saturday.
As many as four sharks were spotted by surf lifesavers about 10.30am, prompting them to contact police to assist with enforcing the beach closure.
Duty officer for Ballina Shire Surf Life Saving, Garry Meredith, said the decision was made to shut the beach because a two-metre tiger shark was circling beyond the breakers near the flagged area off the Lennox Head Alstonville Surf Club.
"Usually when you get a shark sighting they are heading north or south, but this time they were hanging about. It was a bit close for comfort," Mr Meredith said.
The surf club sent its inflatable boat beyond the waves to warn surfers between Lennox Point and the clubhouse.
A Ballina-based surf life saving jet ski, which had been on routine patrol off Lennox, was also used to warn swimmers closer in to shore.
Air T&G, a private helicopter company which runs joy flights out of Ballina, volunteered its aircraft to patrol the beach from above.
Mr Meredith said everyone quickly obeyed the warnings to get out of the water.
Local Paul Woolford was on the beach with his brother from the UK and grandsons from Brisbane when the shark sirens sounded.
He said the beach was buzzing with news of the shark sightings. Once everyone was safely out of the water, the crowds were trying to spot the sharks.
Mr Meredith said the seas off Lennox had been quite murky and weedy in recent days, which seemed to be prime conditions for sharks to come inshore.
He said life savers had noticed an increase in shark numbers during the spring months in recent years.
"I guess they are just coming in looking for food," he said.
The beach was reopened at 1.30pm after the sharks were spotted swimming out to sea.