Expert: shark in encounter "large enough to be a concern"
THE Department of Primary Industries has confirmed Arthur "Woody" Vidgen's surf ski was bitten by a great white shark off Belongil Beach on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman said an expert had examined photos of the bite marks left on the Byron Bay Surf Club veteran's ski.
"A Department of Primary Industries shark expert has reviewed the bite pattern and determined it was most likely a white shark involved in the incident," she said.
Southern Cross University Marine Biology and Fisheries senior lecturer Dr Daniel Bucher said the marks on the ski were clearly from a shark.
"It's a bit hard for me to confirm the size as there is not a complete bite profile," he said.
"You can see how the top teeth have dug in and not moved much while the lower jaw swings shut and the teeth have raked the paintwork on the ski.
"By the sound of the description the shark was not particularly large, but large enough to be a concern.
"To the shark the ski would have been a large and potentially dangerous creature as well as a potential meal, so the approach was cautious.
"In the end we have a good outcome.
"No one hurt, the beach was closed because we know a shark is present and we all wait until the danger has passed before everyone, human and shark, goes about (their) business."
Statistically, people are more likely to get killed driving to the beach than being mauled by a shark.
Despite this reality, shark attacks continue with regular frequency off the coast.
According to the International Shark Attack File, Australia recorded 572 attacks and 153 fatal attacks up to February 2015.
Since records began, New South Wales leads the way with 60 fatalities from 215 total attacks.
In Queensland waters there have been 50 fatal attacks from a total of 182 recorded incidents.
Western Australia and South Australia both have reputations for being the home of the fearsome great white shark, and between them have recorded a total of 30 fatalities from 116 attacks.
June 24, 2015: Arthur Vidgen had his surf ski bitten by an estimated 3m shark off Belongil Beach.
February 9, 2015: Japanese national Tadashi Nakahara killed by what experts believe was a 3m great white shark at Speeds Reef, between Ballina's Lighthouse and Shelly beaches.
February 8, 2015: Jabez Reitman drives himself to hospital after being bitten on the back by a shark at Seven Mile Beach.
January 24, 2015: Hamish Murray was thrown a metre into the air off his surfboard when hit by a shark at Flat Rock.
January 20, 2015: A shark snaps Dianne Ellis' surfboard while she was filming a pod of dolphins off Wategos Beach.