Lindeman Island in the Whitsundays, off which a person is believed to have been attacked by a shark.
Lindeman Island in the Whitsundays, off which a person is believed to have been attacked by a shark.

New details on horror shark attack

A HOLIDAY to the Whitsunday Islands turned into horror for a Tasmanian woman when she was attacked by a shark, leaving her in a critical condition overnight.

The woman, 46, was swimming near a yacht at Cid Harbour off Whitsunday Island's Sawmill Bay about 5pm when she was mauled by a shark, suffering a life-threatening bite to her upper right leg.

Dr John Hadok from Mackay Base Hospital just happened to be on a nearby boat when the woman was attacked.

"Fortunately he was able to assist in immediate treatment of the patient and to stabilise the serious haemorrhage that she had," Mackay local ambulance service network operations manager Tracey Eastwick, said.

The woman was then winched onto the CQ rescue helicopter with a "significant shark bite to her right thigh and a smaller wound to her right lower leg".

The woman is airlifted by RACQ CQ Rescue. Picture: Channel 9
The woman is airlifted by RACQ CQ Rescue. Picture: Channel 9

She had "altered levels of consciousness and significant amount of pain", Ms Eastwick said.

It was lucky the CQ rescue helicopter was already close by when it got the call for help, giving the woman the best shot of survival.

However it did mean the chopper was short on fuel, forcing a landing at Proserpine airfield to re-fuel as medical crews worked to stabilise the woman's condition.

She was "conscious but critical" when she was moved from Proserpine to Mackay Base Hospital, arriving just after 8pm, Ms Eastwick said.

Mackay Base Hospital last night confirmed the woman was in a critical condition after losing a significant amount of blood in the attack.

An RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter spokeswoman earlier said the people the woman was with displayed heroism before the rescue crew arrived.

"There was a doctor on scene, but apparently the people that she'd been with that have got her on to the boat and have packed her wounds to stop the haemorrhaging are the ones who really saved her life," she said.

"By all accounts it was very serious and without the rescue helicopter she probably would have died, but those people did save her life by stopping the haemorrhaging."

The Whitsunday Islands are a popular tourist destination, with tourists flocking to the region during the cooler months of the year.

Parts of the Great Barrier Reef are protected by shark drumlines, but last year a group of Sydney greenies started legal action to remove shark controls from the area.

Fisheries Queensland Shark Control Program manager Jeff Krause said the drumlines had helped keep swimmers safe from Gladstone to Cairns.

"Shark-control equipment does not provide an impenetrable barrier between swimmers and sharks,'' Mr Krause said.

"(But) it is effective in reducing the overall number of sharks in the area, making it a safer place to swim. Human safety must come first."

There has not been a fatal shark attack in the Sunshine State since 2014 when Daniel Smith, 18, was attacked by a tiger shark at Rudder Reef near Cape Tribulation.

He died within 10 minutes of being pulled from the water at Rudder Reef after he was bitten on the upper thigh.

In January 2006, Sarah Whiley, 21, died after being mauled by up to three bull sharks while swimming with friends in waist-deep water at Amity Point, North Stradbroke Island.

Last February, a Cairns father-of-two almost died after he was mauled by a shark while spearfishing off Hinchinbrook Island.

Fatal attacks since 1992

Tadashi Nakahara, a Japanese surfer, dies at Shelley Beach, Ballina in February 2015.

Daniel Smith, 18, off Port Douglas while fishing at Ruder Reef in December 2014.

Paul Wilcox, 50, found floating and could not be resuscitated after being pulled from the surf near Clarkes Beach at Byron Bay in September 2014. Witnesses saw a 3m great white nearby.

Peter Edmonds, 16, from Wollongbar was killed while bodyboarding off Ballina's Lighthouse Beach in April 2008.

Sarah Whiley, 21, mauled near Amity Point, North Stradbroke Island in January 2006.

Mark Thompson, 38, killed at Opal Reef while spearfishing in December 2004.

Bob Purcell, 84, killed in Burleigh Lake in February 2003.

Beau Martin, 23, killed by bull shark while swimming in Miami Lake in December 2002.

John Ford died after pushing his wife to safety while diving off Byron Bay in June 1993.

Michael Docherty, 28, killed by a great while surfing off Moreton Island in October 1992.