Man dies in 3rd shark attack off Australia island in 7 weeks

2018-11-06 18:50

A shark has killed a man in an island harbour on Australia's Great Barrier Reef where two tourists were mauled on consecutive days in September in a spate of attacks that has left authorities struggling to explain an apparent escalation in danger in an internationally-renowned vacation destination.

The 33-year-old victim was among 10 friends who set out from Airlie Beach on the Queensland state mainland on Monday morning on a rented yacht to sail themselves on a five-day cruise through the idyllic Whitsunday Islands, Police Inspector Steve O'Connell said.

They anchored 23km from Airlie Beach in Cid Harbour, intending to spend their first night in the popular, protected anchorage on Whitsunday Island, the uninhabited largest island in the group, he said.

The victim was taking turns with a woman standing on a paddle board or swimming in the harbour late on Monday afternoon. He had dived into the water to give the woman her turn on the board when he was attacked, O'Connell said.

There were more than a dozen yachts in the harbour at the time. French-speaking tourists launched a dinghy from their yacht and rescued the man, O'Connell said.

They brought the victim to his own yacht, where most of the group had medical backgrounds, including two doctors.

"Despite their best efforts, the injuries were too severe," O'Connell told reporters.

The victim was taken by helicopter to the Mackay Base Hospital, 100km to the south, where he died.

"CPR was ongoing for a very long time and every solid effort was made to save that man's life," O'Connell said, referring cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"They did everything imaginable to try to save the man. It's just – the injuries were so severe," he added.

A 46-year-old tourist, Justine Barwick, was attacked on September 19 while swimming from a yacht in Cid Harbour and is recovering. A 12-year-old tourist, Hannah Papps, was attacked in the same harbour while swimming from a yacht the next day, losing a leg.

The last shark attack in the Whitsunday Islands before the latest spate occurred on February 13, 2010, off Dent Island where 60-year-old tourist Patricia Trumbull survived lacerations to her buttocks and major blood loss.

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Peter O'Reilly said at the time that the Trumbull attack was the first in the islands in 13 years and only the third ever recorded.

Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, which represents more than 3 000 tourism businesses, said on Tuesday that authorities were methodically examining why the unprecedented series of attacks had occurred and whether environmental changes were a factor.

"We need to now have the scientific background and investigation of what is causing this sudden spike of attacks and interactions with sharks. We simply do not know why this is occurring and what is responsible for it,"Gschwind said.

The species of sharks involved in the attacks have not been identified.

Police and fisheries boats were patrolling Cid Harbour on Tuesday and advising tourists on yachts to keep out of the water, O'Connell said.

Authorities killed six sharks in the Cid Harbour area in a week following the September attacks in a bid to reduce their numbers in the popular tourist location. Critics argued that killing sharks was not the answer.

Gschwind called for a science-based response to the latest tragedy.

Australia had not experienced a fatal shark attack since April 17 last year and it has averaged fewer than two deadly shark attacks per year in recent decades.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.