© 9News

Steve the surfer had a close call with a shark at Lennox Head
A 52-year-old man has narrowly escaped injury after his surfboard was bitten by a suspected great white shark in the second attack in Ballina Shire, Australia in 24 hours.

Beaches will remain closed until Saturday after the attack, which took place around 9am on Friday in Lennox Head, just 12 miles from where local surfer Mathew Lee was critically mauled on Thursday.

While there has been no official confirmation, some believe the shark to be the same which mauled Mr Lee, who was recovering from emergency surgery today in a Gold Coast hospital.

Northern NSW lifeguard coordinator Scott McCartney, who is responsible for around 279 miles (450km) of the Australian coastline stretching south from the northern NSW border, said there was a possibility the same shark was responsible for both attacks.

"But there could also be more out there," he told the Telegraph

"There's no way we can actually tell, but a 20km [12 miles] distance ... that's not very much for a shark.

"And generally if there's an attack, the shark will hang around for about 24 hours."

Mr McCartney pointed out that many sharks had gathered 60 miles (100km) down the beach to feed on a floating sperm whale carcass.

Authorities will meet at 9am on Saturday to decide whether to reopen beaches in the area - and whether to allow a scheduled junior surfing competition to proceed.

Police had decided not to carry out a "kill order" issued against the 13ft great white which attacked Mr Lee. Generally, police contract out local fishermen to stalk and kill or capture sharks when the government permits them to do so.

But lifesavers, who patrol beaches, coasts and pools, continued to sweep the seas in a helicopter and inflatable boats as well as on jetskis, at one stage tracking the shark for about 20 minutes before losing it in deep water.

Mr McCartney said this was the first time he has had to deal with two shark attacks in such a short period of time.

Lifesavers had made every effort to stress to the public that it was unsafe to be in the water, but a "good swell" had led some to defy their counsel, he said.

While lifesavers have no legal power to prevent people entering the water, in rare cases police have been known to fine or even forcibly remove surfers from the waves.