Man dies in horror shark attack (Queensland Australia)

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Posted by on December 11, 2004 at 11:07:49:

Man dies in horror shark attack
By Kay Dibben and Simon Atkinson
December 12, 2004

A MAN has died in a shark attack in far north Queensland.

The 38-year-old was on a spearfishing trip with friends to Opal Reef, about 40 nautical miles northeast of Cairns, when he was attacked about 1pm yesterday.

He was in the water with a group of people about 15m from the boat when the shark struck, a police spokesman said. Others heard the man's screams and swam to his rescue, pulling him back on board but he died shortly after from severe blood loss.

Paramedics said the man, from Clifton Beach, just north of Cairns, suffered severe cuts to his upper left leg.

"It was a very deep and major laceration," said paramedic Leon Oliveri, who was on the rescue helicopter that flew to the boat.

A family friend, who asked not to be named, said the doting dad of a 10-year-old daughter had recently returned from a week-long holiday, spearfishing off Lizard Island in north Queensland.

"He was a fabulous guy who lived life to the full," said the friend.

"He was a wonderful person who'd built up a successful business.

"Everybody is devastated and just in a state of shock. I mean, who gets attacked by a shark off Cairns? It's just bizarre."

The victim's wife is understood to have received a phone call from another person on the boat, telling her her husband had been attacked.

Soon afterwards she was called again with the tragic news her husband had died.

The man had set off with friends from the marina at Yorkeys Knob, just north of Cairns, early yesterday for a social day of spearfishing.

His close friend, Les Marsh, owner of charter company Fishing Cairns, said the man regularly went spearfishing on the reef.

"Everybody is very upset at the moment," Mr Marsh said.

Police interviewed the man's companions on the boat when it returned to Yorkeys Knob late yesterday.

Opal Reef is a popular diving and spearfishing spot, with daily visits from commercial dive and snorkeling boats.

Shark expert Vic Hislop said Opal Reef was home to large tiger sharks.

He said that 12 years ago a friend of his disappeared while skindiving in the area.

"I went straight up there and in the next three days I caught 11 tiger sharks each over 11 feet (3.3m) long that could have carried a horse away," he said.

"They never found any trace of my mate but I know what happened - it was the sharks up there, they're out of control."

The Sunday Mail (Qld)

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