Dolphins gather before shark attack
DOLPHINS began milling together moments before a surf store proprietor was attacked while surfing at the mouth of a northern NSW river yesterday.
Father-of-three Richard Ellis, 40, was bitten about 10am yesterday while surfing at a spot known to locals as the "V Wall" at the Nambucca River entrance.
The shark -- believed to be a bronze whaler -- mauled his right calf, tearing through Mr Ellis's muscle, ambulance officer Paul Cue said.
Following surgery at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital yesterday afternoon, Mr Ellis's condition was listed as stable.
Mr Ellis, who runs the Coastal Curves surf shop with his wife Jenny, was surfing with two friends when the shark struck.
After catching a wave into shore, Mr Ellis's friends carried him over a hill to their van at Shelley Beach.
They tied a surfboard leg rope around his calf to minimise blood loss from the wound.
They then drove the wounded surfer about 4km to the local ambulance station, where two officers -- including Mr Cue -- treated him before rushing him to hospital.
Mr Cue, also a surfer, said despite his injury, Mr Ellis was "very calm, very collected" when he arrived at the station.
"He's quite a mellow guy and he was completely in control even though he was a bit shocked and pale," he said.
"Basically he said these things happen when you're surfing in the sharks' backyard.
"He remembers seeing a stack of dolphins out there and just at the time he was bitten he noticed they all started milling together."
Mr Cue said Mr Ellis was sitting on his board "and felt the bite and there was a wave coming so straight away he caught it and went to shore".
"His friends carried him over to Shelley Beach and brought him straight to the station."
There, Mr Cue and a paramedic dressed Mr Ellis's wound and administered morphine for the pain.