The first victim of a shark attack in the Whitsundays is now fully conscious and has apologised for “causing so much trouble”.
Tasmanian tourist Justine Barwick is lucky to be alive after suffering horrific injuries to her upper right leg, when she was mauled by a shark after swimming from a charter yacht at Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island.
The 46-year-old remains in ICU at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, but is in a stable condition after undergoing reconstructive surgery.
Ms Barwick’s husband Craig has reported that Justine is now fully conscious and they have been able to speak to each other for the first time, since she was winched from the water on Wednesday, last week.
“In typical Justine fashion her first words to me were ‘sorry I have caused so much trouble’ and she is asking after the welfare of family and friends,” Mr Barwick said.
Family Based Care Tasmania said in a statement that while there have been a number of offers to raise funds to help with Ms Barwick’s recovery and rehabilitation, the family has indicated that whilst generous it was not required.
“While we are very grateful for these offers, there are others within the community who genuinely need the assistance,” Mr Barwick said.
“We are fortunate enough to be able to manage in these circumstances.”
Hannah Papps, 12, was the second person to be attacked in the same area in as many days.
She remains in a critical but stable condition in the Queensland Children’s Hospital.
At least four tiger sharks have now been captured in drumlines and killed, although Queensland Fisheries are unable to confirm whether any of the sharks were responsible for the attacks.
Mr Barwick said the Queensland Government’s decision to undertake a shark culling operation in the area was “understandable”.
“The recent shark attacks in the Whitsundays are particularly personal to me and my family,” he said.
“The reaction by the Queensland Government setting drum lines and culling sharks is understandable and in some ways I appreciate it!
“However we have to understand that while there have been two attacks in rapid succession, shark attacks are rare and sharks play an important role in the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef.”