School of 60 bull sharks causes evacuation of beach at Ballina

The school of sharks was spotted off the North Wall breakwall in Ballina this morning, and reported online about 8.30am by NSW Shark Smart. Another sighting was again reported at 10.30am, when the school of sharks were spotted at the nearby Lighthouse Beach.

The beach was quickly evacuated and the authorities were notified.

A helicopter and surf life saving officer were working to clear the water earlier today.

Garry Meredith from the SLS said he’d “never seen anything like it” according to The Northern Star. Mr Meredith suggested the inflated shark numbers could be linked to a low tide and the seasonal mullet run, supported by the Richmond River which runs into the ocean at Ballina.

Beaches in the area were not actively being patrolled, but extra crews had been called on to monitor the unusual situation.

When the shark alarm was rang this morning, about 12 surfers were in the water. Groups of people had reportedly gathered in the local area to watch the sharks from the North Wall.

The situation continues to be monitored by drones.

A swarm of 60 bull sharks off the break wall at Ballina caused the emergency evacuation of the beach this morning. Picture: NSWSharkSmartSource:Twitter

Extra surf life saving crews were called in to help monitor the unusual situation. Picture: NSWSharkSmart

Extra surf life saving crews were called in to help monitor the unusual situation. Picture: NSWSharkSmartSource:Twitter

Northern NSW has been the site of a number of shark attacks in the recent past, and in 2015 Ballina was unofficially given the dubious title of the shark attack capital of Australia.

In February of that year, Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara was attacked and killed by a shark while surfing at Shelley Beach in the area.

In July of the same year, a bodyboarder was mauled at nearby Lighthouse Beach, reportedly by a great white shark.

After a spate of 11 attacks in the northern NSW area between 2014 and 2016, the state government invested in the installation of shark nets off the beaches around Ballina.

All the shark nets were later removed in May of 2018, over fears they could pose a risk to migrating whales who travel through the area in their mating season.


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