Twenty-year-old Australian professional Sam Morgan was attacked by a ten-foot bull shark while surfing his home break of Lighthouse Beach, in Ballina, late Monday afternoon. The attack marks the third attack there in just five months, and the 11th in that region this year.
Morgan was surfing by himself when he was attacked, at around 6:20pm on Monday. A witness heard Morgan scream before he was able to make his way out of the water, where witnesses helped apply first aid to the large bite wound on his left thigh. Photos of Morgan's board indicate the shark attacked the tail of his board, leaving teeth marks near the fins.
Morgan was flown to Gold Coast Hospital, where he remains in an induced coma. His condition is listed as serious but stable, thanks to the efforts of New South Wales' Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter team.
"We pulled up at the same time as the Ballina paramedics at Ballina airport." paramedic Rolan Murcott told NSW's Northern Star. "We started to resuscitate him…We put him in an induced coma, and on life support. The helicopter arrived and transported him to the Gold Coast University Hospital where he went straight to theatre. They had a full surgical team waiting for him."
Morgan's attack comes fast on the heels of an attack on bodyboarder Matt Lee earlier this year, and on Dale Carr just two months ago, both at Lighthouse Beach. In February, just down the road at Shelly Beach, Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara was mauled by a Great White, the attack caught on Coastalwatch's Shelly Beach surf cam. That attack came just a few days after another attack at nearby Seven Mile Beach.
The regular interval at which serious shark attacks have occurred has left lifelong surfers high and dry, feet firmly in the sand, with others simply hanging their boards up for good.
"It’s affecting the town," a witness, who requested to remain anonymous, told The Daily Mail. "They’re saying it’s Amity Beach, like in Jaws."
After accepting his 2015 GQ Sportsman of the Year award last night, Mick Fanning spoke to the attack on Morgan, saying it was "hard to take in."
"In the past couple of years, it's happening more and more," he said. "We need to figure out what it is and a way to deter them."