20-year old surfer Sam Morgan was rushed to hospital yesterday evening after being mauled by a shark at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina.
The attack occurred at around 6:15pm, and left Morgan with serious wounds to his left thigh. The promising young junior, who managed to make his own way back to shore, was taken by paramedics first to the local Lismore Base Hospital, then airlifted in a serious condition to Gold Coast University Hospital around 7.30pm. He remains in an induced coma following surgery, but his condition is now said to be stable.
The shark in question is thought to have been a bull shark in the 3m range. The murky water left by recent rainfall in the area’s river mouths and creeks constitutes ideal hunting conditions for sharks.
Morgan competes in the Australasia Men’s Junior Tour, where he’s currently ranked in 33rd place. He placed 5th earlier this year in the Carve Pro Junior, held at Maroubra. (Scroll down for a clip of him surfing).
According to Ballina Shire Council Mayor David Wright, who was speaking to ABC Online, Morgan was “lucky to escape without more severe injuries.”
“He was so lucky that the shark’s bottom jaw went into the board — bit over the top of the fin — so, the amount of pressure on his leg is still a serious injury, but if it hadn’t bitten the board he would really be in strife.”
“We sighted a bull shark in the river mouth today – the NSW Department of Industries were in a helicopter. He was surfing by himself, very close to the area where Matt Lee was taken. It is a different type of shark this time, it appears it’s a bull shark. I just feel for not only him and his family, which I know. It’s the surf lifesavers … the police that have got to go through this whole thing again.”
The Mayor also spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald, telling them that “we should have the nets in place by Christmas.”
“People have got to be protected and we’ve got to get on top of this thing quickly so that Ballina does not become a byword for shark attack.”
There have been 14 unprovoked shark attacks in New South Wales so far this year, including one fatality. Due to this unusually high rate of incidents, the Ballina-based Le-Ba Boardriders Club, of which Sam Morgan is a valued member, held an emergency meeting in August, attended by over 200 surfers, fishermen and concerned locals. 95% of those present voted in favour of “controlled management or a partial cull” as a short-term solution, said the club’s president Don Munro.
Yesterday the club posted a message on its Facebook page that read: “In shock tonight with the news that Sam Morgan has been attacked at North Wall this evening. We are all thinking of you mate and praying that you will be OK.”