IT is safety first for parents and ocean lovers, who are removing their children from surf lessons and questioning whether it is safe to get in the water.
Experienced local surf teacher, Wayne Hudson, has had to cancel all of his lessons this week as beaches remain closed.
It comes after a humpback whale died and washed up on Nobbys Beach, sending shark beacons into a frenzy and forcing council’s hand.
Mr Hudson said he understands the loss of business, but hopes the hysteria can come to an end sooner rather than later.
“Since the whale was been buried we, as a business, have had no communication from council,” he said.
“We have no indication of when the beaches will be opened. They have told us the whale is buried in clay, which is like putting it in concrete, but again from a business perspective we haven’t been able to do any lessons.”
He confirmed several worried parents are not wanting their children to go near the water.
“I’ve had to cancel all of my group lessons, and all the after school lessons every afternoon,” he said.
“Quite a few people are ringing up questioning whether to put their kids back in our program and back into the ocean because they’re fearful for their safety.
“But I completely understand that they are unsure if it’s safe to go in, and like anything perception is reality.
“Even if whales don’t attract sharks, if people say they do then parents are more likely to stop their kids going into the ocean, which I accept fully.”
Ken Little is a popular Port Macquarie surfer who has been on the beach for many years.
Currently unable to surf because of a back injury, he said he has friends who continue to surf despite the increased threat of sharks.
“I’d still be out their surfing if my back was good,” he said.
“I do worry that the problem won’t go away and that more sharks will come in.
“I’ll go out to Town Beach and have a surf when I can but I will stay away from Nobbys, Flynns and Shelly beaches for a while just to be safe.”
One parent, who chose to remain anonymous and has three water-loving children, said she has warned them not to go back in the ocean until the whale saga is completed.
“Whether they dig it back up and get rid of it, I don’t know, but my kids won’t be going to anymore lessons or to any of our beaches for the time being,” she said.
“Even if the threat is small, I would rather be safe than sorry. Imagine assuming their aren’t any greater number of sharks than usual, and then seeing your child attacked by a shark. No one will believe that this whale issue hasn’t caused panic.”