'Why do the sharks want to eat us all of a sudden?'
IT WAS the first official day of the school holidays and my kids were "frothin".
We were out to dinner with friends and the conversation turned to the next morning's surf.
The only difference this evening was: Cooper Allen was lying in Lismore Base hospital having been attacked by a three metre great white at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina, earlier that day.
One of the adults said: "Listen, you can't worry about it, man. The chances of getting attacked are so small."
For the first time in my 20 years of being a "surfing mum" the comment just didn't wash.
I'm really not sure we can say that any more. Not in The Ballina Shire anyway.
My four kids have been surfing the beaches from Evans Head right up to Byron almost since they could walk. It is really sad their great love of the ocean now comes with a fear factor, and not just for them, but for me.
The risk is real, and I am really confused.
Over the past 20 years, the whale population has just gone nuts. If you've been walking along the Lennox headland this year you can literally see them jumping out of the water 100m from the rocks. The growth in the shark population can only be linked to this phenomenon.
Is this just a freakish marine event, like a sort of El Nino, that will pass, or has this part of Australia changed forever?
Brisbane 97.3FM radio presenter, Robin Bailey, had a rant last year about how sharks must not be culled.
"The ocean was their territory," she said. And if surfers didn't want to get attacked they should stop surfing at dawn or dusk.
Apart from the fact that many attacks have not happened at dawn or dusk, I remember thinking such talk was ridiculous. Any surfer keen enough to get out of bed at 5am winter/summer, rain, hail or shine will tell you the ocean is as much their territory as the shark's.
I hope they find a solution soon, but more than anything I want to know why the sharks want to eat us all of a sudden.
My kids are not going to give up their greatest passion but if information is power, it would be great if this "surfing mum" could get some back.