‘The injury was severe’: shark victim’s horror
A YOUNG woman whose leg was mauled by a shark, while swimming off the Cape York coast, has been described by a rescue helicopter crewman as the bravest patient he has ever flown.
Emergency services have praised the swift actions of crew members onboard the tropical crayfish trawler, who administered first aid to the 20-year-old after the shark attack occurred about 17km off the coast of Cape Grenville, around 6.30pm on Sunday.
The woman, understood to be a commercial diver, had been snorkelling off the back of the cray fishing boat and viewing grouper, when the shark grabbed her right leg in its jaws.
She suffered serious lacerations between her ankle and knee and was rushed by crew onboard the vessel to nearby sand cay Magra Islet, where rescuers were called, and she was eventually flown to Cairns Hospital.
She remained in the hospital yesterday in a stable condition.
It is not known yet was species of shark attacked her, however rescuers reported that it may have been a tiger shark.
Babcock Australasia's rescue crew officer Dominic Hodalin was onboard the helicopter tasked from Horn Island to transport the woman to Lockhart River, before she was flown via Royal Flying Doctor Service to Cairns.
"The injury was severe," he said.
"She was stable when we arrived on scene, and she was conscious and in quite good spirits, considering.
"This was the bravest patient I have ever seen - the fact she was conscious and talking about diving all the way back on the helicopter ride, that was something."
Warren Martin from the Torres and Cape Local Ambulance Service Network told reporters the quick actions of crew members onboard the vessel may have helped save the woman's life.
"Early first aid had been applied to stem, what could have been significant blood loss, from the bite to the lower knee," he said.
The woman was an employee of MG Kailis' tropical lobster division, which operates a fleet of three fishing vessels between Cairns and Papua New Guinea.
In a statement, an MG Kailis spokeswoman said the company had spoken to the woman and her family.
"The MG Kailis Group is assisting her family to join her in Cairns to provide support," she said.
"Our thoughts are with her and we will provide whatever additional support we can."
James Cook University shark expert Professor Colin Simpfendorfer said was not advisable to go swimming in the ocean at dusk.
"There are sensible things we always advocate to avoid shark attacks, which is not swimming at dawn or dusk," he said.
"Swim as part of a group, and if there are sharks around, get out of the water and avoid those sort of situations."