Shark attacks surfer near Byron Bay

He is said to be in a serious but stable condition, with significant blood loss.

His flatmate, Dane Davidson, told media the pair had just entered the water and were paddling out when the shark - believed to be a baby Great White - struck.

Officials were called to Belongil Beach at just before 7 a.m. on Sunday, where they found 41-year-old Sam Edwardes on the beach with a large shark bite on his upper leg.

The shark took a dinner-plate-sized chunk from Mr Edwardes' board, but he managed to return to shore and alert other surfers.

'As soon as my mate got out the back he sat up on his board and instantly a shark smashed from underneath ... knocking him clean off his board, ' he said. He started screaming, we didn't realise until we paddled back to the beach that there was a big chunk taken out of his leg.

The housemate told the broadcaster he and other bystanders used leg ropes - used to attach surfers to their boards - to make a tourniquet around the man's leg.

He was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics, before being air-lifted to Gold Coast University Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

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Belongil Beach is ordinarily unpatrolled and Surf Life Saving NSW has requested the volunteer patrol not to open Byron Bay Main Beach for 24 hours.

Beachgoers are urged to follow safety advice from Surf Life Saving NSW and by visiting the Department of Primary Industry's website www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/sharks and the SharkSmart app.

A Surf Life Saving NSW helicopter was diverted from searching for a missing man at Ballina to scour the coastline, but returned to its original mission when no sharks were spotted by mid-morning.

Byron Bay council elected not to have a smart drumline trial, the spokeswoman said. In 2016, a surfer escaped with minor leg injuries after being bitten on a beach between Suffolk Park and Broken Head.

"You always see a couple about, but an encounter like this is unusual".

The shark attack was the second major ocean incident in the area over the weekend. On Sunday a search was continuing for a veteran lifeguard who went missing in unsafe surf at Lighthouse Beach at Ballina.

According to The Northern Star, four ambulance crews rushed to the man for treatment before being transported by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service.

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