Skipper’s terrifying encounter with shark
A SHARK attack survivor has told of his terrifying encounter with a suspected bronze whaler shark as it had "a couple of bites at him" while he swam off a luxury superyacht on the Great Barrier Reef.
Ryan Bowring, 25, who works as a skipper out of Airlie Beach, was bitten twice on the right buttock and left hip at Line Reef about 12.30pm yesterday.
Originally from Hobart, Mr Bowring relocated to Airlie Beach last year to work as a skipper for Southern Cross Sailing Adventures.
His father Michael, who is travelling from Tasmania today, said his one was in surgery for about three hours this morning and is now in recovery.
Mr Bowring was listed in a stable condition in Mackay Base Hospital after the shark attack, which happened about 18km north of a popular snorkelling site at Heart Pontoon on Hardy Reef.
It is the fourth confirmed shark attack on the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays region in six months.
RACQ CQ Rescue chopper and critical-care paramedics airlifted the shark attack victim, who was sitting up and conscious, from the Hardy Reef helipad.
He told rescuers he believed it was a bronze whaler shark, which can grow up to 3.5m and 300kg, that attacked him while swimming in his boardshorts off a 28m superyacht based out of Airlie Beach.
"He said it had a couple of bites at him,'' a RACQ CQ Rescue spokeswoman said.
"He's a skipper out of Airlie Beach, but it's not known if he was skipper of that vessel, but he seems to know his sharks and he reckons it was a bronze whaler shark.
"There was no talk of size.''
The skipper, who has not been named, fought off the shark and swam back to the superyacht where he was given first aid by the crew.
Queensland Ambulance Service said the man suffered wounds to his right buttock and left hip and was listed in a stable condition.
"They were penetrating teeth-like, multiple teeth-like marks, to the body,'' QAS senior operations supervisor Shane Tucker said.
"He actually swam back to the boat he came off, where the crew of the boat rendered first aid.
"He was taken to Hardy Reef pontoon by boat and winched to the helicopter from the pontoon.
"There was no major blood loss, no major blood vessel involvement, he remained conscious and stable throughout transport."
A SHARK attack victim mauled on the upper thigh and hip off Queensland's Whitsundays coast is in a stable condition.
The man, aged in his 20s, was diving from a private boat in the Great Barrier Reef about 12.30pm when he was bitten about 19km north of Heart Pontoon on Hardy Reef. Hardy Reef is about 50km northeast of Hamilton Island.
It's believed he swam to safety before being taken to Heart Pontoon to meet a rescue helicopter.
RACQ CQ Rescue chopper and critical-care paramedics airlifted the shark attack victim - who was sitting up and conscious - to Mackay Hospital for treatment about 3pm.
Queensland Ambulance Service said the man suffered wounds to his right upper thigh and hip and was listed in a "stable" condition.
"It's a fairly minor bite, he's sitting up and is in a stable condition," an RACQ Rescue spokeswoman said.
The RACQ CQ rescue chopper was sent to the scene and lowered a critical care paramedic and rescue crewman to the pontoon to stabilise the patient. By 2.30pm the man was winched to the chopper and flown to Mackay Base Hospital.
Authorities said he was conscious at the time they were notified of the attack and photos released by RACQ CQ Rescue showed the patient sitting upright on the helicopter.
In the wake of today's attack, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said human life is paramount.
Speaking this afternoon, the Premier said news that a man had been bitten today was tragic.
"Hopefully the young man is OK, I understand that he's on board a rescue helicopter at the moment," she said.
"This is different to Cid Harbour but what we do know is that there are sharks across our Queensland waters but human life is paramount and hopefully this young man will be OK."
The attack has sent shockwaves through the local tourism industry and local residents.
"He was on a private boat,'' Col McKenzie, of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, said.
"We are assuming he was spearfishing, but usually the only reason people get bitten on the Reef is if they've been fish feeding or spearfishing, we'll know more soon.'' The RACQ Rescue team later said it was believed he was diving.
He said it was a huge blow to the Whitsundays, which was still reeling after three shark attacks - one fatal - last year.
"Right now the whole industry is having a "oh sh*t" moment,'' Mr McKenzie said.
"We're all just shattered.
"What can we do?"
Many of the reef's leading tourism operators are on Green Island, off Cairns, today for the AMPTO annual general meeting.
Cruise Whitsundays, which operates the Hardy Reef pontoon, said the incident occurred at Line Reef, north of the main tourist snorkelling site.
"The man in question was not a guest or crew member of Cruise Whitsundays,'' a spokeswoman said.
Hardy Reef is a popular spot for tourist diving and snorkelling. It sits in the outer reef off Airlie Beach and takes several hours to reach by boat.
The Whitsunday region has been the site of a number of shark attacks in the last six months.
Victorian man Daniel Christidis, 33, died in November after being attacked at Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island during a trip with friends and colleagues.
That incident followed separate attacks - also at Cid Harbour - on Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick and Victorian 12-year-old Hannah Papps within 24 hours in September.