Shark knocks man off board

ONE shark attack can ruin your whole day.

Ben Vining was enjoying some beautiful conditions for surfing at Byron Bay's Tallow Beach on Saturday afternoon when he was knocked off his board by what he believes was a bull shark.

“It was a nice day, there was some good surf and I'd been watching a pod of dolphins. I was waiting for a wave and looked to my right when I saw a big shadow,” the 29-year-old Gold Coast man said.

“There was a loud bang and it lifted me up and knocked me off my board.”

He then saw the shark thrashing about violently in the water. Ben was 'a bit worried', but did not panic.

“My board had drifted away and I went to pull on my leg rope to pull it in, but it had been bitten off.”

He managed to catch a couple of waves and body surf in.

“What you're meant to do (if you're attacked by a shark) is paddle in slowly, but I didn't have a surfboard. So I swam in as fast as I could. I thought 'just get in and worry about it later.”

Mr Vining said the noise had been heard by everybody around him.

“Everybody was looking over. They all knew (it was a shark) and paddled in straight away.”

Another surfer managed to get out and rescue Ben's board, although he thinks the board may have been the reason why the shark picked him out among all the other riders in the water.

“The board I was riding was 1.5m long with black rails and plenty of stipes on the bottom. It definitely chose me because of the colour of the board. It was probably mistaken for a seal,” he said.

Mr Vining has been surfing for about 15 years and plans to get back in the water again tomorrow.

“I've seen a few sharks before. I had one come at me once before, but never this close,” he said.

Northern NSW lifeguard co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said the incident was not reported to lifeguards.

“There are a number of sharks following the bait fish and young whale calves heading south,” Mr Leahy said.

If surfers or fishermen see a shark hanging around in an area they should notify lifeguards, the Fisheries Department, or police.

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