Shark attacks surfer

A SHARK attacked a Gold Coast surfer and severed the tip of the man’s big toe near Evans Head on Sunday.

Nigel Hughes, the deputy principal of Palm Beach-Currumbin State High School, was attacked by the shark on day two of a six week holiday.

Last night, the 39-year-old underwent surgery at Lismore Base Hospital to save the toe.

Mr Hughes was surfing at Coffee Rock, between Evans Head and Broadwater, with two friends and an 11-year-old boy about 7am on Sunday morning when the shark took a bite out of his toe.

The spot, with its murky water, is well known to locals as a place sharks are regularly caught by fisherman.

Mr Hughes had just taken off on a wave when he began yelling out really loud, surfing mate Paul Plenkovich, of the Gold Coast, said.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said.

Mr Hughes paddled into shore and began yelling out “shark, shark”.

Mr Plenkovich said the surfing posse managed to stay calm while they paddled about 100m in to the shore.

They then wrapped Mr Hughes toe, which had suffered a 10cm gouge, in a towel and drove him to hospital.

Recovering yesterday at his Gold Coast home, Mr Hughes said he was not in much pain and expected to make a full recovery.

And further south, a surf life saving crew has also had a close encounter with a shark at Hawkes Nest on the mid-north coast.

Surf boat sweeper Greg Ross was with four others when he felt “a big thump” go through his hands about 7.30am on Saturday.

He turned around to see a small white pointer thrashing his oar around in its mouth.

“It just dragged the oar out backwards through my hands,” Mr Ross said.

Mr Ross believes the shark mistook the oar for a seal, and soon let it go.

“We waited a couple of minutes, then went over and grabbed it,” novice surf life saver, Bill Jenkins, said.

“You can’t steer the boat without it.”

While some would be hesitant about returning to the water after such an encounter, Mr Ross said he was back in the ocean with two other crews the same day.

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