SYDNEY: A shark attacked a 17-year-old surfing off Australia's east coast on Monday leaving him in hospital with a hip injury, police said.
Emergency services responded to reports that a youth had been bitten by a shark during the morning at Ballina's popular Lighthouse Beach -- the scene of several attacks in recent years.
"The youth made his way out of the water and was assisted by a nurse who was at the beach," New South Wales police said.
"He sustained a single bite wound to his hip and was taken to Lismore Base Hospital in a stable condition."
Life savers chased off sharks from the beach following the attack while police declared all beaches in the Ballina closed for 24 hours, with school holidays in full swing.
Fourteen people were involved in unprovoked shark attacks off the New South Wales coast in 2015, up from three in 2014, according to records at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.
Most occurred along a 60-kilometre (37-mile) stretch from Evans Head to Byron Bay -- with Ballina, a popular surf break 740 kilometres north of Sydney, between the two.
Ninety-eight shark attacks were reported globally last year -- the highest number ever recorded, according research at the University of Florida. Six of the attacks were fatal.
Theories on the increase include rising water temperatures caused by climate change making sharks change their habits, the El Nino weather pattern, which was particularly powerful last year, and the increasing popularity of watersports.