A BULL shark was the most likely species to have bitten a swimmer in Lake Macquarie on Saturday evening, officials have confirmed.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries said this morning (Monday) that a departmental shark biologist had confirmed it was "most likely a bull shark" but that "a determination of the size of the shark was not possible" at this point.
"NSW DPI is working with NSW Police to monitor the area and provide technical advice and resources as required." a spokesperson said.
"NSW DPI is following its Shark Incident Response Plan and will work with NSW Police to determine what action should be taken to minimise any ongoing risk.
"Water users and beach goers are advised to follow the NSWSharkSmart Twitter feed or download the SharkSmart app for the latest information on shark movements and sightings."
Bull sharks are known estuary dwellers, as the Port Macquarie News reported in 2016.
SHORELINE locals where a man was bitten by a shark at Yarrawonga Park near Morisset on Saturday evening say they are shocked at the attack.
A couple who are known to some of those living along the shore as former neighbours were swimming about 6.15pm on Saturday when a shark ripped into one of the man's arms from about the elbow, tearing it to the bone. The man is believed to be 68 years old.
Records will be checked today but in 2017 the Newcastle Herald reported that the last recorded shark attack in Lake Macquarie was on October 14, 1946, in Swan Bay, Marks Point, when a swimmer was bitten on the leg.
The couple no longer lived at Yarrawonga Park but residents said they sometimes came back to swim, as happened on Saturday.
"We heard calls of 'help' and to 'ring an ambulance', one resident, Judy Jones, told the Newcastle Herald.
Residents said the couple had been swimming near some small boats anchored off the shore at Yarrawonga Park, which faces back west across Bonnells Bay towards Lake Eraring and the Eraring power station.
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They said the still evening quiet was shattered by screams for help from the man's wife, who had been swimming with him when he was hit by the shark.
They said his wife helped him to shore, holding his arm up, as people raced to the water's edge from the nearby houses on the other side of the 30-metre waterfront reserve.
Steph Stafford, who lives above where the attack happened, said she ran down with a first-aid kit and a belt for a tourniquet.
Witnesses to events on the shore said the shark had latched on to one arm and had torn deeply into the flesh and tendon before letting go and swimming away.
Most of the damage was below the elbow but one witness said it was so bad the man would be lucky if surgeons could save the bottom half of his arm.
The man was flown by rescue helicopter to John Hunter Hospital, where he was reportedly in a serious but stable condition on Sunday afternoon.
Until yesterday, I was a shark sceptic. Pulbah Island, yes, but I didn't believe they were down here, until nowA long-term resident of the Yarrawonga Park shore where the attack took place
Inspector Grahame Rathbone of NSW ambulance thanked the residents for "the great job" they did with the "potentially life-saving torniquet" before paramedics arrived.
"The patient was conscious and alert while receiving treatment from paramedics," Inspector Rathbone said. "When you get a call to attend a shark attack, you never really know the full extent of the injuries until you get on scene."
The Herald spoke to various residents along the peaceful strip, which contains a mixture of holiday houses and permanent residences. One neighbour had lived there for more than 30 years and visited before that and said he had never seen a shark in that time.
"Until yesterday, I was a shark sceptic," the man said.
Asked what he meant by "sceptic" he said: "I knew they were in the other side of the lake, up at Pulbah Island, but I didn't believe they were down here, until now."
Other residents with decades of lake-watching between them were similarly stunned.
"We see lots of dolphins here, but not sharks," one woman said.
Although news of the attack had been widely broadcast, people were prepared to swim in the area on Sunday.
While the police said they were working with Fisheries officials to determine the type of shark, most people believed a bull shark was responsible, although this was based on reputation rather than anything they saw.
One man who was quickly on the scene said he "might have seen a fin out of the corner of my eye, peripheral vision, but I'm not sure'.
"In that situation your concentration is on the person, not the surroundings," he said.
Despite the nonchalance - before Saturday - of the Yarrawonga Park residents, Lake Macquarie has had a history of shark sightings. Popular lore says shark numbers have risen with fish stocks since commercial fishing ended almost 20 years ago.
The attack was near a popular swimming area called the Square Jetty, which locals said had once been protected with mesh netting. A Crusader Christian youth camp operates nearby.