Child bitten in second shark attack in Whitsundays

Hannah Rogers
September 22, 2018

A HOLIDAY to the Whitsunday Islands turned into horror for a Tasmanian woman when she was attacked by a shark, leaving her in a critical condition overnight.

Authorities said the extent of the woman's injuries mean she was "lucky" to be alive, mostly due to an emergency room doctor who happened to be on a nearby boat and the rapid assistance of a medical response helicopter which was also nearby.

She was then airlifted to Mackay hospital by rescue helicopter where she remains in a critical condition.

The second person is believed to have been attacked by a shark at Cid Harbour.

Queensland Ambulance Service Rockhampton manager Mindy Thomas said they had sent a helicopter from Mackay and a paramedic from Hamilton Island.

The girl, who was on holiday with her father and sister, is in a critical condition and will undergo surgery.

Keen snorkeller Justine Barwick was swimming near a yacht at Cid Harbour off Sawmill Bay about 5pm when she was mauled by a shark, suffering a life-threatening bite to her upper right leg.

The RACQ CQ Rescue has confirmed the patient is a woman, not a man as initially reported.

The woman reached the hospital complaining of significant levels of pain.

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Mr Macdonald contacted the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter on the radio to co-ordinate what needed to be done for her to be picked up from the boat.

"Fortunately there was a doctor on scene who was an emergency department doctor so fortunately he was able to assist in immediate treatment and to stabilise the serious haemorrhage that she had", she said. Of these, two people died.

The Whitsunday Islands are a popular tourist destination, with tourists flocking to the region during the cooler months of the year.

Prior to Thursday, the last attack in the area was eight years ago.

"Fisheries Queensland has organised for the Queensland Shark Control Program contractor based at Mackay to deploy three shark control drumlines in the area tomorrow morning", the department said in a statement.

"Sharks can cover very large distances, so the chances of catching the same animal responsible for one of the attacks is very unlikely", she said.

Mr Krause said various types of whaler species as well as bull and tiger sharks can be found in waters around the harbour and he advised against swimming in or near Cid Harbour for the time being.

The measures aim to reduce the overall number of sharks in the area, but do not provide an impenetrable barrier between swimmers and marine life.

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