Second shark attack
© Photographer: Daniel Shaw - The surfer has serious injuries to his left arm
Swimming has been banned at Sydney's Bondi Beach this morning after the city's second shark attack in two days.

A 33-year-old surfer was mauled at the southern end of Bondi Beach about 7:30pm (AEDT) yesterday, in the first shark attack at the beach in 80 years.

The Dover Heights man was taken to St Vincent's Hospital, where he is in a serious but stable condition in intensive care after undergoing emergency surgery for serious injuries to his left arm.

Sydney Police spokeswoman Joanne Elliott says the surfer did not see what bit him but felt a sharp pain in his arm.

"We understand he's called for help and a number of other surfers have come to his aid and got him to shore," she said. "He was very lucky because we understand there were a number of off-duty doctors who were on the beach at the time. They were able to treat the man and stem the bleeding."

Witness Gabriel says people at Bondi Beach were in shock when the surfer was brought out of the water.

"He had the ankle strap from his surf board tied around his left arm," he said. "He was conscious, his eyes were open, he was very pale and looked quite distressed."

The witness says the man was put in an ambulance within five minutes of being pulled from the water.

Fears for swimmers

The Mayor of Waverley Council, Sally Betts, says swimmers and surfers will not be allowed in the water at Bondi Beach this morning until it is declared safe. "We'll be working with the police and the authorities to make sure the whole beach is searched," she said.

Councillor Betts says sharks have been known to occasionally breach the shark net at the beach but people should not fear swimming there.

"Unfortunately this happened last night, when our lifeguards were off duty and it was late at night, but our people will make sure the bay is quite safe before people get in the water," she said.

The shark attack is the second this week in Sydney, after Navy diver Paul de Gelder was attacked in Sydney Harbour during an international counter-terrorism exercise at Woolloomooloo Bay on Wednesday morning.

Doctors had to amputate the elite clearance diver's right hand after the attack and are considering amputating his right leg. The attack prompted a warning from the New South Wales Government that it was too dangerous to swim in Sydney Harbour during shark season.

Harbour fishermen have said they are seeing sharks daily, as the water becomes cleaner and warmer. A ban on commercial fishing also means there is more food. Experts say the riskiest times to be in the water are at dawn or dusk, when sharks are feeding, especially on overcast days like today.

Water Police are urging people to avoid surfing alone.

Races will go on

The attacks have sparked fears that sharks will threaten swimmers during upcoming events in Sydney. But Olympic swimming gold medallist Murray Rose says people taking part in the inaugural Malabar to Little Bay swim this weekend should not be concerned. "These ocean swims are so well patrolled," he said.

"We have a huge safety net around ours, like most of them do, with motorised craft, IRBs, and jet skis and board riders... I don't think you could ever be safer."

Next month's Sydney Harbour Swim Classic event will also go ahead despite the attacks. Organisers have reassured competitors there will be plenty of divers to look out for sharks.