A 16-year-old Wollongbar teenager is dead after being attacked by a shark at North Wall, Ballina, this morning.

The teenager, Peter Edmonds, was body-boarding with a friend when the attack occurred.

In an act of incredible bravery, the 16-year-old’s mate, Brock Curtis-Mathew, also of Wollongbar, who had had left the water at the time of the attack, returned to the water to help his friend.

Peter died from massive blood loss caused by bites to his leg and body.

Police have praised the bravery of Brock and said he would be considered for a bravery award.

Describing the attack, Inspector Steve Clark said: “At that time one of them has left the water and gone to the shore, at which point he has looked back and seen his friend in distress.

“He has re-entered the water and started paddling out to his friend.”

As he paddled out, the boy saw a ‘large, dark shadow’ moving away from his friend, police said.

“Despite seeing that, he’s still gone to his friend, retrieved him, brought him back to the shore and attempted to revive him,” Insp Clark said.

“It was an extreme act of bravery to re-enter the water and he’s still gone in to retrieve his friend, it’s exceptional

“We will pursue that avenue, and making sure he’s adequately recognised.”

Brock was taken to Ballina Hospital suffering shock but was allowed to go home later in the day.

Beaches in the Ballina region were closed following the attack.

The State Government also activated its shark attack response plan following the incident.

A Department of Primary Industries scientist was sent to Ballina to assist police and the coroner with their investigations.

Surf Life Saving NSW spokesman Stephen Leahy said there had been three shark alarms sounded in Ballina this summer and heavy rainfall over the past two days had made the area more susceptible to attacks.

The last fatal shark attack in the Northern Rivers region was at Byron Bay in 1993.

A report is being prepared for the coroner.