Authorities are warning people to stay out of the water at Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays after a Victorian man was killed in a fatal shark attack.
The 33-year-old suffered bites to his left thigh, right calf and left wrist in the attack about 5.30pm on Monday.
It’s the third serious shark attack at Cid Harbour in two months after Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick and 12-year-old Melbourne girl Hannah Papps were bitten on consecutive days in September.
Water police, Queensland Department of Fisheries and other government agencies are at the scene warning people in the area.
“At the moment the general message being given by the water police out there and by other government agencies will be don’t swim in Cid Harbour, at all,” Queensland Police Inspector Steve O’Connell told reporters.
The man was on the first day of a five-day sailing holiday with nine other friends on a 40-foot yacht when the attack occurred.
The group had chartered the yacht from Cumberland Charter Yachts, which expressed its sadness and shock at the man’s death.
“We continue to remind all boat operators and their guests not to swim at dawn or dusk, not to swim in murky water and not to swim in Cid Harbour at any time,” Cumberland general manager Sharon McNally said in a statement.
Inspector O’Connell said the man and another woman had been using a stand-up paddleboard moments before the man was bitten.
Despite the frantic efforts of his friends – including two doctors – the man went into cardiac arrest and had to be given CPR before being flown to Mackay Hospital.
He died shortly after arriving, with RACQ crewman Ben McCauley describing the scene as “absolutely horrific”.
“He’d suffered very serious bites, significant blood loss as well as cardiac arrest,” Mr McCauley said.
His travelling companions are now on Hamilton Island, where they are being given support and providing statements to police.
Baited drum lines were installed around Cid Harbour following the attack on Ms Papps but removed about a week later.
Whitsunday LNP MP Jason Costigan called on the state government to urgently reconsider putting in permanent controls.
A male patient is currently being airlifted to Mackay Hospital with significant leg and wrist injuries following a shark attack in waters near #CidHarbour which occurred at 5.37pm. pic.twitter.com/1eKy4XYPfo
— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) November 5, 2018
“I think we’re flirting with danger when you compare us to other communities, from Alice Beach north of Cairns, down to Townsville, which is peppered with drum lines and nets and so forth, around Magnetic Island, the northern beaches of Mackay and you go all the way down to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, and we’ve got nothing in the Whitsundays – it’s madness,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
However environmental groups say culling is not the answer, with Humane Society International marine campaigner Lawrence Chlebeck saying they are unpopular and provide a false sense of security.
“Permanent and prominent signage and education to prevent swimming at Cid Harbour would have been much more effective,” Mr Chlebeck said.
A report is being prepared for the coroner.
Tasmanian mother of two Justine Barwick, 46, was bitten on her left thigh while snorkelling in the same area on September 19 and underwent 18 hours of surgery.
Melbourne girl Hannah Papps, 12, received a life-threatening bite to her right leg while swimming in shallow water in Cid Harbour the following day. She lost her leg in the attack.
Four tiger sharks were killed and another was “humanely euthanised” after baited drum lines were dropped in Cid Harbour shortly after the two fatal attacks.
The Queensland government insisted killing the sharks was for public safety and had the support from the Liberal National Party, saying the protection of people is more important than the protection of sharks.
Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said at the time the drum lines, which caught a number of large sharks, had been effective in raising awareness about shark activity in the area.
He ruled out permanent shark control measures in the area, saying it was too far from the mainland to allow quick access to remove them in bad weather.