Australian surfer Dianne Ellis was out surfing at Wategos Beach, Byron Bay, when she was suddenly thrown off her longboard, which was left in two pieces by the attack.
Ellis had paddled over to get a closer look at a pod of dolphins, and initially she thought it had been a dolphin that was responsible for unseating her, assuming it was the force of the bump that had broken her board. However, a passing paddle-boarder, who witnessed the incident and helped Ellis back into shore afterwards, told her that he saw a small shark nearby directly after the attack. Ellis then showed the broken board to a friend, “who said there were a couple of teeth marks on it and said I should take it to Fisheries to have a look at it. I don’t think there would be teeth marks if it was a dolphin,” said Ellis.
Ellis’s daughter Lily Ellis, incidentally, is a junior national longboard champion, and the board her mum snapped was the very board on which she won her title. I’d have been pissed.
Ellis Snr. described the incident in the following terms: “It was an immediate explosion and suddenly I was floundering around in the water with two pieces of board.” She was recording with her GoPro at the time, and though the footage fails to identify her assailant conclusively, an ambiguous shadow – shark or dolphin? – can be seen around the 1:07 mark.
Byron Bay is noted for its shark population. The last fatality there occurred in September of last year after a British man was attacked by a great white. Severeal weeks ago a pod of dolphins was attacked by a 3m tiger shark near busy Newcastle beaches, just 50 metres from shore.