Oz surfers demand shark cull in attack capital
One morning at a popular beach on Australia's east coast, two teenagers were surfing on body-boards when one noticed a commotion in the water followed by a glimpse of a "big, grey shadow".
As 16-year-old Brock Curtis later recalled, he saw the water turn red as he rushed towards his friend Peter Edmonds, who appeared on his back and then silently turned face down.
"I thought he was only joking, so I went over to him, and as I flipped him over I saw his leg," Brock said.
He dragged his friend ashore but Peter soon died of blood loss.
When the fatal incident occurred in 2008 at Lighthouse Beach in Ballina, 500 miles north of Sydney, it was the first of its type in the area for 35 years.
But there has since been an alarming spate of attacks around Ballina and nearby Byron Bay - a region now known as the "shark attack capital of Australia".
The New South Wales state government has been pressed to adopt lethal preventive measures such as poison baits or hired shooters. Surfers are increasingly backing a cull.
Lisa and Neil Edmonds, the parents of Peter - "a charming, gentle giant" - said the mauling of Cooper Allen (17) last month "opened old wounds" and they now believe nets and traps should be placed offshore. "You just think 'here we go again'," said Mrs Edmonds.
Local attacks in recent years have included the fatal mauling of British expat Paul Wilcox in 2014 and of Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara in 2015.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott, an avid surfer, also backed culls and shark nets off beaches in northern New South Wales.
"Frankly, if it's a choice between people and animals, I'm on the side of the people every time,'' he said.
Josh Frydenberg, the federal environment minister, also urged local authorities to allow culls and "put human safety first".
Critics argue that culls are ineffective and cause the death of non-threatening sharks and other marine life.
Nathan Bartlett, a surfer in Ballina, said he used to believe attacks were like car accidents and "there's a really minor chance of it happening".
But, after the most recent incident, he said he had no doubt that there will be another attack. "It's just a matter of time," he told ABC Radio. (© Daily Telegraph, London)