Sam Morgan, a champion junior surfer, is in an induced coma after becoming the third shark-attack victim in five months at Lighthouse Beach on the northern coast of New South Wales, Australia.
Morgan, 20, of Ballina was believed to have been attacked by a 10-foot bull shark just after 6 p.m. local time Tuesday, according to various news outlets.
The surfer suffered significant leg injuries but managed to make it back to shore on his own. New South Wales police reported that passersby provided first aid upon seeing him stumble out of the water with a “large bite wound to his left thigh,” according to the Daily Mail Australia and News.com.au.
Morgan was flown to Gold Coast University Hospital and underwent surgery. News.com.au reported that Morgan was in stable condition but in an induced coma.
Ballina mayor David Wright told News.com.au that the shark bit through the “bottom of the board,” with teeth marks on top of Sam’s thigh.
“It’s the same sort of thing that happened to the guy at Seven Mile Beach in February,” Wright told News.com.au. “If it hadn’t bitten his board he would have been in big strife.”
Residents told Daily Mail Australia they fear the Ballina region has turned into “another Amity” and said the recent spate of attacks has affected the town as many are staying away.
There have been at least 11 other shark attacks on the same stretch of coastline so far this year, including two fatal incidents.
One seasoned surfer, who asked not to be named, said the frequency of shark attacks “from Evans Head to Byron Bay” on the NSW north coast was “freaking out” locals.
“It’s bizarre how the shark attacks have been in this area from the little bridge and harbour—just like Amity harbour in the Jaws movie, and it has everyone spooked,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
News.com.au reported that a bull shark was spotted in the Richmond River at the entrance to north creek in Ballina earlier in the day, and an hour before that, a great white shark was spotted off Lennox Point.
The beach will remain closed for at least 24 hours as rescue boats patrol the area for sharks.
Morgan, a member of local surfing club Le-Ba (short for Lennox and Ballina) Boardriders Club, competed in the World Surf League junior qualifying series and is a regular at surfing events between the Gold Coast and Sydney.
“In shock tonight with the news that Sam Morgan has been attacked at North Wall this evening,” the Le-Ba Boardriders wrote on Facebook. “We are all thinking of you mate and praying that you will be OK.”
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