A local fisherman in a small north-west Tasmanian town is worried a shark attack is a sign they will be back in numbers in summer because they will eat “anything that looks like a free meal”.
Locals have described their shock at hearing that a 10-year-old boy was pulled from a boat by a shark.
The woman who gave the young boy first aid has praised his father, who remained calm while nursing his son in his arms.
The boy was fishing with his father about five kilometres offshore from the historic town of Stanley on Friday when a shark pulled him into the water.
The shark, believed to be a great white, let him go as the boy’s father jumped in the water.
The boy, who has not been named, is in a stable condition in hospital with cuts to his head, chest and arms.
His life jacket was shredded in the attack.
A woman who helped provide first aid said she was astounded that he was pulled from a boat.
Stanley resident Diane Maynard assisted with first aid when the boy was brought ashore.
She praised the boy’s father for the way he handled the stressful situation.
“The father was doing an amazing job in the circumstances, it was a pretty scary situation for the family,” she said.
“The father was holding it together really well. I don’t think I would have done a good a job as he did in that situation.
“Seeing a child in his parent’s arms looking pretty ordinary, it was pretty amazing [seeing the father’s care].”
Ms Maynard said the tight-knit fishing town responded quickly.
“It was what you would expect from a community, but yes a little boy in need … first aid kits came out and everyone was there to help.”
David Hursey has been a fisherman in the town for almost 40 years and he said it was unusual for sharks to be around in the winter.
He feared there would be many more sharks in the water come summer.
“You don’t see this sort of thing happen this time of year, never ever have, but the amount of seals out here the way it is these days — and anything that looks like a free meal, they go you,” he said.
“No matter if you’re a person, they’ll go you, don’t worry about that.
“If you’ve got them around here this time of year, wait till summer and they will be even worse.”
He said used to see sharks when he went diving as a young fellow with his father and once saw one grab a pelican.
“We’ve seen a few out here but nowhere like that [attack] happening, that was a first.
“They’re a bad thing, I don’t like them myself.
“I’ll just stick to my bath, I won’t worry about getting in the saltwater with them, bugger that.”
He said local fisherman pulling cray pots would probably be thinking twice about going out.
Mr Hursey said he was not deterred because his boat was large.
“But I tell you what, I’ll be using my toilet, I won’t be having a sunny day crap over the side no more, bugger that.”
Mr Hursey was also full of praise for the boy’s father.
“He was very lucky his dad responded as quickly as he did.”
Circular Head mayor Daryl Quilliam said he had not heard of a shark attack in the area in his 20 years in local government.
In the past five weeks, there have been three fatal sharks attacks off the east coast of Australia as well as another presumed shark attack off Cairns that resulted in an injury to the lower leg.