Shark victim on the mend
GOLD COAST surfer Nigel Hughes has lost the tip of his big toe after the shark attack near Evans Head on Sunday.
The 39-year-old deputy principal of the Palm Beach-Currumbin State High School was attacked by the shark on day two of a six-week holiday.
He underwent surgery at the Lismore Base Hospital on Sunday night to save the toe.
Mr Hughes was surfing at Coffee Rock, between Evans Head and Broadwater, with two friends and an 11-year-old boy about 7am when the shark took a bite out of his toe.
The spot, with its murky water, is well known to locals as a place sharks are regularly caught by fisherman.
Mr Hughes had just taken off on a wave when he began yelling really loud, surfing mate Paul Plenkovich, of the Gold Coast, said.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said.
Mr Hughes paddled into shore and began yelling out ‘shark, shark’.
Mr Plenkovich said the other surfers managed to stay calm while they paddled Mr Hughes about 100 metres into shore.
They then wrapped his toe, which had suffered a 10cm gouge, in a towel and drove him to hospital.
Recovering yesterday at his Gold Coast home, Mr Hughes said he wasn’t in much pain and expected to make a full recovery.
Meanwhile, a surf life-saving crew has also had a close encounter with a shark at Hawkes Nest, on the NSW Mid-North Coast.
Surf boat sweeper Greg Ross was with four others when he felt ‘a big thump’ go through his hands about 7.30am on Saturday.
He turned around to see a small white pointer thrashing his oar around in its mouth.
“It just dragged the oar out backwards through my hands,” Mr Ross said.
Mr Ross believes the shark mistook the oar for a seal, and soon let it go.
“We waited a couple of minutes, then went over and grabbed it,” novice surf lifesaver Bill Jenkins said.
“You can’t steer the boat without it.”
While some would be hesitant about returning to the water after such an encounter, Mr Ross said he was back in the ocean with two other crews the same day.
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