Suspected shark attack off Queensland leaves swimmer, 30, mauled

AFP-JIJI

A swimmer suffered wounds to his arms and legs Saturday after he was mauled in a suspected shark attack off Queensland state on Australia’s east coast, officials said.

The latest reported attack comes during the busy summer season, and as authorities in neighbouring New South Wales implement a range of shark-prevention measures to reduce encounters after a spate of maulings in the state last year.

The 30-year-old man was swimming off Rosslyn Bay some 670 km (420 miles) north of Brisbane just before noon when he was believed to have been bitten by a shark, the state’s ambulance service said.

“(He has) lacerations to the arms and legs,” an ambulance spokesman told AFP.

“He is still being assessed. He’s just arrived to the shore now and will be transferred to Rockhampton Hospital shortly.”

The swimmer was in stable condition and would be transferred to another hospital in Brisbane later Sunday, a Rockhampton Hospital spokesman told AFP.

The man was believed to have been snorkelling off Miall Island near Rosslyn Bay, a local coast guard officer told Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper.

“From what I understand he was snorkelling a bit off the beach and said he saw a lot of fish and then the shark came out of nowhere,” Yeppoon Coast Guard flotilla commander Arthur Hunt said.

“It’s the first shark attack we’ve had up here in a while — I’ve been (with the coast guard) for seven years and this is my first.”

There were 14 attacks in New South Wales last year — include the fatal mauling of a Japanese surfer — compared to three in 2014, according to data compiled by Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

In Queensland, there were four attacks in 2015, compared to one in 2014, taking last year’s national toll to 22, it said.

Experts say attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore, but fatalities remain rare.