SHARK sightings have closed two North Coast beaches in the past week.
Wategos Beach at Byron Bay was closed on Thursday and Sharps Beach at Ballina on Tuesday, following reports of sharks close to shore.
Wategos was closed at about 8.30am after police received calls from concerned residents in houses above the beach. Police relayed the reports to lifeguards, who called in swimmers and surfers then made a jet ski patrol of the area.
Northern NSW Lifeguard coordinator Scott McCartney said the patrol did not spot any sharks, but there were a lot of baitfish and dolphins in the area, which usually indicated their presence.
The beach was reopened about 90 minutes later, when the baitfish dissipated.
Mr McCartney said it was likely the sharks were small reef sharks or bronze whalers.
Sharps Beach was also closed for about 30 minutes on Tuesday morning following a reported shark sighting.
Mr McCartney said it did not appear there were any more sharks than usual for this time of year, but calm conditions and clear water may be contributing to an increase in sightings.
He urged all beach goers to take notice of the advice of lifeguards when beaches were closed.
“It’s usually easy to get people out of the water at first, but trying to keep them out can be tough. It’s understandable when you’re standing on the beach on a really hot day, but it’s important for the public to follow the lifeguard’s instructions. We close it for a reason,” he said.
Mr McCartney said beaches along the North Coast were well covered when it came to shark spotting.
Lifeguards were helped by the presence of surfers, aircraft flying close to the coast and people walking on headlands, who usually relayed any sightings to lifeguards on the beach.
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