A shark fatally mauled a young Australian wildlife worker on the Great Barrier Reef, officials said Tuesday. Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the 23-year-old victim worked for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
"Once again a family out there is grieving for a young man who tragically has lost his life in this horrific shark attack," she told reporters.
On Facebook, Iona College identified the victim as Zachary Robba, a 2014 graduate. The rector of Robba's former school, Father Michael Twigg, wrote: "This was Zach's dream job and he embraced all that it entailed."
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"Zach was so full of life and I'll always remember him as a young Steve Irwin! Rest in peace," one person replied to the Facebook post.
Police said the man was in the water, returning to a vessel chartered by the service when he was attacked Monday near North West Island, 47 miles northeast of Gladstone. He suffered extensive injuries to his leg and arm and died at a hospital hours later.
Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Anderson said the ranger had been doing maintenance work before the attack. The victim was the last person out of the water.
"At the end of the day there were four people swimming off the back of a boat, cooling down after a day's work," he told reporters.
There have been at least three shark attacks on the Great Barrier Reef over the past 18 months.
Last October, two British backpackers were attacked while snorkeling at Hook Island in the Whitsunday Islands. One of the men lost his foot.
In March 2019, a 25-year-old man suffered serious thigh injuries when a shark attacked him at Hardy Reef, near Hamilton Island, also in the Whitsundays chain.
And in November 2018, Victorian doctor Daniel Christidis, 33, was killed at Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island.