Shark chases surfer at Merewether Beach

LIFEGUARDS locked down several Newcastle beaches this morning after a shark chased a surfer out of the waves at Merewether.

The sighting of the 1.2-metre shark at about 9am prompted Merewether, Bar Beach and Dixon Park beaches to close for about 45 minutes as lifeguards attempted to ensure it was safe.

Newcastle City Council aquatic services manager Peter Withers said a surfer spotted the shark while surfing between Merewether and Dixon Park beaches.

The surfer alerted lifeguards of his close encounter after coming ashore shortly before the beaches were officially due to open at 9am.

‘‘He’s paddled in and said the shark actually followed him in,’’ Mr Withers said.

Lifeguards then instructed swimmers to come ashore, taking a jet ski from Nobby’s Beach to patrol the area for about half an hour.

No sign of the shark was spotted and its breed was not identified, Mr Withers said.

‘‘I think the average person probably wouldn’t be able to identify what kind of shark they’ve spotted,’’ he said.

All three beaches reopened about 10am.

The sighting follows an eventful season for the aquatic predators in the Hunter.

Glen ‘‘Lenny’’ Folkard returned to the waves off Redhead last week after a shark took a chunk out of his upper thigh in that area on January 18.

A grey nurse shark also latched onto a fisherman’s foot off Broughton Island late last month.

Mr Withers said there had been an average number of sightings over the summer months tragically punctuated by the attack off Redhead beach.

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