Teen attacked by 'shark' off Australian beach

SYDNEY (AFP) - A teenage boy was taken to hospital Friday after a suspected shark attack off Australia's east coast as another beach remained shut for the seventh day over sightings of the animals.

The 17-year-old was reportedly spearfishing off Mollymook, some 230km south of Sydney, when he was bitten on the hand.

A New South Wales Ambulance spokesman said he was in a stable condition.

"Our paramedics on the beach treated this patient for lacerations to his left hand including multiple lacerations to his fingers," she said.

The incident came as beaches off the city of Newcastle, 400km north of Mollymook, were closed for a seventh consecutive day after lifeguards spotted large sharks close to the coast attacking dolphins.

"This is definitely an extraordinary situation," local police inspector Paul Bernard told reporters.

"We often see sharks herding schools of baitfish... but to have large sharks in the environment attacking other creatures in the middle of the day close to shore is not something we see.

"Dolphins are not small - they're bigger than people."

Sydney's Bondi Beach was briefly closed in early January after a shark sighting.

Swimmers were also ordered out of the water at Bondi in November after a shark was spotted, which followed the discovery of a great white shark carcass in nets set up offshore to protect bathers.

Beaches across Sydney and New South Wales state have been partially netted since 1937.

The last shark fatality in Australia was in late December when a a 17-year-old boy was attacked while spearfishing in the country's southwest.

It was the second fatal mauling that month after another teenager died in an attack while swimming off Port Douglas in the northeast.

Experts say attacks by sharks are increasing as water sports become more popular.

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