The 59-year was airlifted from Britomart Reef to Townsville Hospital where he is being treated for a serious wound to his leg, with paramedics describing his injuries as “catastrophic”. Police spokesman Andrew Cary told Australian broadcaster 9 News: “He was on a vessel with a friend, spear-fishing at the time when the attack happened.”
David Humphreys, a doctor with LifeFlight Australia, added: “There was obviously evidence of a very significant shark bite to the patient’s upper thigh, pelvic region.
“He remained in a critical condition after our interventions and he’s now undergoing emergency surgery here in the hospital.
“The obvious concern was catastrophic bleeding which we did our best to get control of.
“But knowing the definitive care is surgery for this patient, we wanted to stabilise him as far as we could.”
Police spokesman Andrew Cary added: “He was on a vessel with a friend, spear-fishing at the time when the attack happened.”
The 9 News report described a frantic effort to get the man back to shore to Dungeness boat rack.
Witnesses also said when he was finally returned more than two hours after the attack, he did not have a pulse.
Police spokesman Andrew Cary said: “He was on a vessel with a friend, spear-fishing at the time when the attack happened.”
There is no confirmation as to what species of shark is responsible for the attack.
Taronga Conservation Society Australia data indicates there have been seven fatal unprovoked shark attacks in Australia this year, two of them in Queensland.
A 46-year-old man died after suffering critical leg injuries on Australia’s Gold Coast last month.
Queensland fisheries minister Mark Furner described the death as “an absolute tragedy”.
He added: “An investigation is underway that will look at the circumstances of what has happened.
“Right now our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends.”
Also in Queensland, wildlife ranger Zachary Robba was killed in April off North West Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef after sustaining injuries to his hand, leg and elbow.
Australia ranked behind only the United States in the number of unprovoked shark encounters with humans in 2019, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.