Tom Burns, Byron Bay lifeguard, putting up a sign to warn people not to go swimming at Watego. Sharks have been sighted. Swimmers (LtoR) Maxine Willis and Keeley Thomas of Alstonville are getting out of the water.
Tom Burns, Byron Bay lifeguard, putting up a sign to warn people not to go swimming at Watego. Sharks have been sighted. Swimmers (LtoR) Maxine Willis and Keeley Thomas of Alstonville are getting out of the water. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Shark sightings close Byron beaches

SWIMMERS at Byron Bay got a little bit more than they bargained for yesterday as numerous sharks were spotted at beaches around the headland.

Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator from Surf Lifesaving Australia, Scott McCartney said that by lunchtime beaches had been closed from The Wreck all the way up to Tallows Beach as precaution following the sightings.

Rumours of great white shark sightings ran around town and on the internet yesterday, but Mr McCartney said that the only species of sharks the Surf Lifesavers had spotted had been shovelnose sharks, leopard sharks and possibly some bronze whalers.

Another shark spotted at Byron Bay recently.
Another shark spotted at Byron Bay recently. Ben Bennink

Mr McCartney said that after the closing of the beaches, lifeguards would be on jet skis all day, watching out for the sharks and informing beachgoers.

But he said that despite beach closures and lifesavers asking people not to swim, some people wouldn't listen.

"In the end if they want to stay out there and surf and swim, that's their choice, we can't stop them."

He said the shark sightings did indicate potential danger.

"It's an odd occurrence, having so many shovelnose and leopard sharks so close to shore.

:"They're coming into knee deep water…. We're wondering why (they are)," he said.

Keeley Thomas and Maxine Willis, both 18 of Alstonville, had come up to Byron Bay for a swim at Wategos beach, but after they had been in the water only a short time, they, along with all the others in the water, were called a-shore by the lifeguards.

The two said they were a bit frightened by the shark warnings.

"I can't believe we went in," Ms Thomas said.

"I'm terrified of sharks!

"I'm just glad they called us in when they did, before we went out further."



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