Police have issued a desperate plea to families to stay safe while out at the beach over the Easter break and school holidays.
The warning was issued by Tweed/Byron Police District officers in the wake of a spate of near drownings around the Byron Bay area over the past five days.
Two women and a man are still fighting for life after separate incidents in the surf.
A 69-year-old woman from Rose Bay and a 66-year-old man from Victoria were in critical conditions at Gold Coast University Hospital, while a 41-year-old Lismore woman was in a critical condition in Tweed Heads Hospital.
Chief inspector Matthew Kehoe wants everyone going out for a swim or a surf to be careful and avoid testing themselves in dangerous conditions.
"Don’t take unnecessary risks in the water," said inspector Kehoe.
"Take note of the swell and be aware of rips and beach conditions. Where possible people need to swim between the flags.
"We encourage everyone to enjoy the beach and the lifestyle it offers, but we want everyone entering the water to return to the beach safely.
"Our thoughts are with these three families at this terrible time."