1 December 2023

Man survives shark attack off the coast of Cape York

| Matt Nicholls
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The helicopter approaches Clack Island to pick up the shark attack victim. Picture: QAS

A man has survived a shark attack off the coast of Cape York after he was bitten while diving for sea cucumbers.

The 21-year-old was airlifted from Clack Island to Cooktown and then transported to Cairns Hospital for medical treatment to puncture wounds on his right arm.

The helicopter was sent around 11.30am on Thursday, 30 November, said critical flight paramedic Valerie Hurlblatt.

“He was in the water swimming next to a shark when it changed behaviour and it turned and attacked him,” she said.

“It has bitten his right arm and he’s sustained non-life-threatening injuries to his right arm.”

She said he was helped out of the water and into a tender by the others who were with him.

“They’ve applied a temporary tourniquet and basic first aid, which has saved his life,” Ms Hurlblatt said.

“(It) stopped the bleeding, and [they] transferred him into the main boat he was on.

“He was actually in good spirits, considering – he was very grateful.”

Paramedics transfer the 21-year-old man to Cairns Hospital. Picture: QAS

Ms Hurlblatt praised those who administered the initial first aid, saying he was “really lucky there was a tourniquet on hand”.

“That has definitely saved his life,” she said.

“It stemmed the bleeding enough to get him onto the main vessel.

“I believe if there wasn’t a tourniquet or they hadn’t stemmed the bleeding, it may have been a different circumstance.”

Clack Island is located east of Coen, just outside Princess Charlotte Bay.

“We didn’t see anybody else (there) — it was absolutely secluded,” Ms Hurlblatt said.

“A very gorgeous area.”

The helicopter on remote Clack Island. Picture: QAS

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