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Australia

Swimmer killed by stingray, two mauled by sharks in Australia

  • Continent’s coastlines see one swimmer dead and a surfer and a fisherman injured over the weekend
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 6:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 12:52pm

A swimmer died after a rare suspected stingray attack off an Australian beach while another two people were mauled in separate shark encounters this weekend.

The 42-year-old’s death came more than a decade after world famous “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin was killed when a stingray barb punctured his chest on the Great Barrier Reef.

The man was in waters off Lauderdale Beach some 23km (14 miles) from Hobart in Tasmania on Saturday when he “sustained a puncture wound to his lower abdomen … possibly inflicted by a marine animal”, police said. He was taken onto the beach by friends but suffered a heart attack and could not be resuscitated.

“It’s consistent with [a stingray injury] but further investigation ... may be able to give a bit more of a concrete fact,” Tasmania Police Senior Constable Brett Bowering told the Sunday Tasmanian.

Stingrays rarely attack humans but the barbs at the end of their tails are coated in toxic venom which they use to defend themselves.

In the first shark attack, a 24-year-old man learning to surf off Seven Mile Beach 130km (81 miles) south of Sydney “felt a forceful lashing motion against his legs”, New South Wales Ambulance said.

He had “significant cuts and haemorrhage as well as several puncture wounds to his wetsuit and right leg … and cuts to his hand”, said duty operations manager Inspector Jordan Emery.

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That attack was followed by another on Sunday, when a teenager was bitten on his arm and leg, police said.

The 17-year-old was spearfishing from a boat off the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory when he sustained “significant injuries” to his arm, St John Ambulance told ABC.

“Obviously there’s quite a large amount of bleeding that’s occurred,” St John Ambulance’s Craig Garraway said.

He said shark attacks were rare in the area: “I’ve been around a long time and I’ll be honest, I can’t remember a shark attack.”

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There have been 13 “unprovoked” shark attacks off the country’s coast this year, including one death after a swimmer was mauled by a shark in the Whitsunday Islands in early November.

There were 15 attacks – one fatal – last year, and 17 encounters and two deaths in 2016, according to data from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.