Anger as surfers stay in water with 60 bull sharks
UPDATE 3.06pm: BALLINA'S mayor has criticised surfers who refused to the water after a large number of sharks led to a beach closure.
Ballina Shire mayor David Wright said 60 to 50 surfers remained in the surf at North Wall despite warnings from emergency services.
Lighthouse Beach was closed earlier today after a large number of bull sharks were sighted off North Wall.
Cr Wright said the council, DPI and police had been united in their decision to close the beach.
But he said volunteers on inflatable rescue boats and jetboats, along with a siren being sounded, didn't coerce many of the surfer to stop enjoying the strong surf.
"The break right on North Wall was really working, and that's where (the sharks) were," Cr Wright said.
"The surf was great but just (nearby), that's where a lot of the sharks were.
"Once again, we've got people, in my opinion, being selfish when they know that the sharks are there."
Cr Wright said he was both concerned someone would be hurt, and frustrated that volunteers were required to spend their public holiday trying to keep those who insisted on staying in the water safe, a role that can prove risky in itself.
He was also concerned some surfers' ignorance of the closure could increase the risk of tragedy.
"I don't want anyone hurt," he said.
The beach closure was scheduled to be re-assessed at 3pm.
UPDATE 12.18pm: LIGHTHOUSE Beach has been closed due to a large number of bull shark sightings off North wall.
Ballina Shire Council said all other shire beaches remain open.
Beachgoers are advised to follow the NSW SharkSmart Twitter feed or download the SharkSmart app for the latest information.
The council is working with surf life saving NSW to help notify beach users.
This closure will be reviewed around 3pm and a further update will be provided.
UPDATE 10.54am: SURF Life saving stalwart Garry Meredith said he had "never seen anything like it" as up to 60 bull sharks continue to swim around the mouth of the Richmond River at Ballina.
Mr Meredith said a drone continued to monitor the situation, but the sharks had not moved on.
He said low tide was approaching and it was the perfect time for sharks to feed on the outgoing tide.
The annual mullet run is also occurring on the Richmond River.
Mr Meredith said beaches were not actively being patrolled at the moment, but crews had been called in to monitor the situation and warn people of the danger.
He said the beach was not technically closed as patrols on that beach were not actively operational.
Mr Meredith said about a dozen surfers were in the water when the alarm was raised and they all left the water when alerted.
He said a lot of people had gathered on north wall to watch the sharks.
He said water clarity was "amazing" and the sharks appeared to be quite deep in the water.
He asked everyone to be aware of the current situation and to rethink plans to enter the water.
Original story: PEOPLE have been warned to get out of the water at Lighthouse Beach in Ballina this morning after about 60 bull sharks were spotted.
Surf Life Saving NSW advised just after 8am there were many sharks in the water near the beach and the Department of Primary Industries Helicopter and a SLS duty officer cleared water.