Shark nets couldn’t have stopped ‘unusual’ attack

SHARK nets are not feasible in waters where a young park ranger was killed during a horrific and "very unusual'' attack this week, as experts insist the best form of protection is education.

Monday evening's attack that claimed the life of 23-year-old Queensland Parks and Wildlife ranger Zachary Robba was as rare as it was tragic, according to shark behavioural expert Culum Brown.

The Macquarie University associate professor said an average of one person died from a shark attack in Australian waters each year - far less than the number of people killed on land by bees, bulls or domesticated dogs.

"It's very rare,'' he said.

''If you look at most of the bites that happen it's nearly always a single bite, and usually what happens is the shark spits you out afterwards…

"Unfortunately this (attack) sounds way more savage than just a bite, it sounds like multiple bites.

"It's very unusual.''


A Facebook image of Zachary Robba
A Facebook image of Zachary Robba


Zachary Robba was quite the outdoorsman.
Zachary Robba was quite the outdoorsman.


It was the third shark attack at North West Island - on the southern Great Barrier Reef off Gladstone - since December 30, when a 30-year-old man was bitten by a shovelnose shark.

Eight days later a nine-year-old was bitten on the leg and suffered puncture wounds to her foot from what's believed was a lemon shark.

Both victims were flown to hospital from the island to receive medical attention.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Monday's attack was very different to the previous two, which both occurred in shallow waters off the island.

''The case with (Zachary) was a bit different, he was out in the deep water, (while) the other two happened in what appeared to be knee-deep water,'' he said.


A picture from Zachary Robba’s Facebook page
A picture from Zachary Robba’s Facebook page



Mr Butcher said the approach was to keep swimmers educated about the risks of the Reef, rather than trying to stop sharks from swimming near the island.

The island had never been part of the government's shark control program, and according to Mr Butcher, likely never would be.

''It's 70km away and it's a decent trip to even get out there,'' he said.

''It's a coral cay."

The Department of Environment and Science is providing support to all those impacted by the tragedy.

Originally published as Shark nets couldn't have stopped 'unusual' attack