Cid Harbour shark attack victim Daniel Christidis a Melbourne medical researcher


Updated

November 06, 2018 21:07:22

Melbourne medical researcher Daniel Christidis has been identified as the man who died in north Queensland on Monday night after being attacked by a shark in the Whitsundays.

Key points:

  • The man was paddleboarding and swimming with friends when he was ‘viciously mauled’
  • Two tourists attacked in same area in September
  • Drumlines temporarily installed after those attacks should be made permanent, local MP says

Dr Christidis, 33, was the third person to be attacked by a shark at Cid Harbour in just six weeks.

He was a researcher at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital and a hospital spokesperson said Dr Christidis’s research team members were “absolutely reeling” from the news of his death.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Dr Daniel Christidis, who was a research fellow with Austin Health,” the spokesperson said.

“Our thoughts are with his family during this extremely difficult time. We are reaching out to his colleagues and will provide counselling support to anyone who needs it.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Cid Harbour shark attack survivor Justine Barwick also issued a statement to say she was “devastated” for Dr Christidis’s family.

He was attacked about 5:30pm yesterday while swimming at Cid Harbour, the same place Ms Barwick was attacked on September 19 and a 12-year-old girl was attacked less than a day later.

Despite three attacks in less than two months, Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones rebuffed calls for permanent drum lines in Cid Harbour, saying the measure would not guarantee swimmer safety.

Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said no-one should swim in Cid Harbour at any time.

“We can’t be clearer — don’t swim in Cid Harbour,” he said.

“Drum lines or not, no-one should swim in Cid Harbour.”

The man mauled in the most recent attack was airlifted to Mackay Base Hospital on Monday night with critical leg and wrist injuries and rushed to surgery, but died a short time later.

Ms Barwick, who is still recovering in Tasmania after being bitten on the upper leg in the water at Cid Harbour on September 19, released a short statement on Tuesday saying she was shocked to hear of a third shark incident in the Whitsundays.

“I feel devastated for the family and friends of this young man,” Ms Barwick said in the statement.

“I know that he would have received the best of care available from the Queensland Health Service, including RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter crew and my heart goes out to all involved.

“This is a terrible tragedy.”

The man was part of a group of 10 friends who had hired a self-driven, 12-metre yacht and were only on the first day of their sailing holiday.

Police said most of the group had a “medical background” including two doctors who were on board.

The man and a woman were taking turns using a stand-up paddle board when he was attacked by the shark.

After the attack, another vessel about 30 metres away carrying French-speaking tourists used a tender to get the man back to his boat.

The rescue helicopter service that flew the man to hospital said he had been “viciously mauled”.

Inspector Steve O’Connell said the man’s friends and rescue crews tried their best to keep him alive but he went into cardiac arrest after losing a significant amount of blood.

“Every solid effort was made to save his life … They did everything imaginable,” he said.

One rescue crewman who responded to the attack, Ben McCauley, was also involved in the last two incidents and said it felt like “deja vu” but worse.

“It’s definitely harder this one, it hits home a lot more when you can’t go home to your family and say that you’ve saved another life,” he said.

Mr McCauley said it was a “gruesome” scene.

“Definitely one of the more difficult ones for everyone involved,” he said

“There was a lot of doctors and nurses already on board so he was in the best care he could have been in.

“He’d suffered very serious bites, significant blood loss as well as cardiac arrest.”

Water police and boats from other government agencies will conduct patrols of Cid Harbour today in an effort to reassure tourists and people boating in the area.

Inspector O’Connell said it was a “horrible situation” and authorities were working to warn people to steer clear of the water.

“The general message given by water police out there and by the government departments will be don’t swim in Shute or Cid Harbour at all,” he said.

“His associates and friends on board the vessel are extremely distraught … they’ve been supported and are going through a hell of a time no doubt,” he said.

“I’ve been in the Whitsunday area on and off for 30 years and apart from some minor nips and bites here and there over that period of time I’ve never heard of any substantial attacks such as what we’ve seen in these three attacks.”

The yacht was rented from Cumberland Charter Yachts, whose general manager Sharon McNally said they were shocked and saddened.

“We continue to remind all boat operators and their guests not to swim at dawn or dusk, not to swim in murky water and not to swim in Cid Harbour at any time.”

Drum lines ‘won’t remove attack risk’

When questioned about how the Government would respond to the shark attacks, Ms Jones said tourism operators had been actively warning swimmers of the dangers and that the Whitsundays community did not want shark drum lines.

She said more signs would be installed, reinforcing that no-one should swim in Cid Harbour under any circumstances.

“Furthermore the evidence shows that we can’t — even with drum lines — get rid of all the risks associated with sharks in the Whitsundays,” Ms Jones said.

“We certainly would not want to give people a false sense of safety in an area where we could not guarantee it.

“We’ve been working hand in glove with both Tourism Whitsunday and the Whitsunday Council about ensuring that we are providing tourists with that information about the risks associated with swimming in those waters.”

Authorities are encouraging boaties in Cid Harbour to refrain from throwing food scraps overboard as it may be encouraging sharks to the site.

‘Visitors are told not to swim at dusk’

Tourism Whitsundays general manager Natassia Wheeler offered “our deepest sympathies” to family and friends of the man who died.

“It’s a terribly sad situation — bare boating is an experience where guests charter a vessel and they skipper themselves around the islands,” she said.

“All visitors heading out on charters have certainly been advised not to swim at dusk or dawn and have been given the safety precautions of where to go and where to avoid.

“So yes, there have been things put in place since the last incident to ensure visitors’ safety comes first.”

In response to the attacks in September, Queensland Fisheries temporarily deployed drumline shark baits in Cid Harbour, and six potentially dangerous sharks were culled.

They included five tiger sharks, one of which was 3.7 metres long.

At the time, Fisheries was unable to say whether that shark had been responsible for either of the September attacks and the drum lines were removed after a week.

Beachgoers need ‘fair protection’

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said it was madness that drum lines were not used to protect any of the beaches in the Whitsundays.

“The minister responsible should be fixing it in the public interest, particularly after this fatality,” he said.

“We need to make sure we give our beachgoers fair protection. There are no guarantees here, none at all.”

He said tourists needed to be better educated about the dangers of swimming at dawn or dusk

“I think government needs to be working with industry in educating people who run a yacht or rent a boat and go out for a trip of a lifetime, an experience of a lifetime, in the place that I call paradise,” he said.

Housing and Sport Minister Mick de Brenni said it was a tragedy.

“This event happened less than 24 hours ago and an investigation is underway, of course this event is terribly tragic and let’s see what the experts have to say about what steps and measures have to be taken.”

Humane Society International’s Lawrence Chlebeck said locals know there could be tiger sharks in the harbour and people should be told not to swim there.

“The knee-jerk culling of sharks at Cid Harbour was clearly not the answer. Lethal drum lines provide a false sense of security and are tremendously unpopular with the public,” he said.

“Permanent and prominent signage and education to prevent swimming would have been much more effective.”

The group says it is challenging the use of 173 drumlines deployed in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, with a hearing due in court at the end of January.

Bowen-based commercial fisherman Nathan Donaldson said the Great Barrier Reef had become a major breeding ground for bull sharks.

“I returned from sea after a 10-day trip … and every single day packs of these bull sharks were harassing us wherever we go, and that will be the same for every single commercial live trout boat that’s left on the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Donaldson said.

Topics:

shark,

animal-attacks,

emergency-incidents,

mackay-4740,

whitsundays-4802,

australia,

vic,

qld,

tas

First posted

November 06, 2018 06:11:08



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