Doctor friends tried in vain to save a paddleboarder savaged by a shark in a fatal attack described as “the worst one yet” in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands.
The man from the state of Victoria was mauled while sharing a paddleboard with a female friend in Cid Harbour. He was on the first day of a five-day cruise in the Whitsundays with a number of friends.
The victim was with a group of 10 – two of whom were doctors and most had a medical background – who had set sail on a chartered yacht from Airlie Beach, on the north Queensland coast, on Monday morning.
Patrol Inspector Steve O’Connell said the group gave first aid to the victim after he was pulled onto the 12-metre vessel. An emergency helicopter crew resuscitated the man twice before he was flown to Mackay Base Hospital in a critical condition.
He died shortly after arrival.
Described by a rescue crewman as “the worst one yet”, the attack on the 33-year-old happened about dusk close to where two other people were mauled in the space of 24 hours in September.
“The man and woman who was onboard have gone into the water in the late afternoon and they were taking turns at using a stand-up paddleboard,” O’Connell said.
“The woman has gotten out of the water off the standing paddleboard and the man has gone into the water, shortly thereafter he was the victim of an attack by the shark.”
Cid Harbour, located in north Queensland’s idealic tourism hotspot the Whitsunday Islands, has recently become notorious for shark attacks following the mauling of two people in September this year.
The victims were 12-year-old Melbourne girl Hannah Papps, who suffered a “significant leg injury” during the attack, and Tasmanian tourist 46-year-old Justine Barwick, who suffered severe injuries to her right thigh and had to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Four tiger sharks were culled from the waters following the attacks and drum lines, which are unmanned aquatic traps used to lure and capture sharks with baited hooks, were additionally laid out by the Queensland state government.
Fisheries Queensland issued a statement at the time of the attacks, warning people that Cid Harbour’s waters “are not safe for swimming”.
“During this holiday period, we urge people to exercise caution, stay out of the water and not throw food scraps overboard from boats,” the department said.