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, aged 46, is being transported in a serious but stable condition after being bitten while swimming near Sawmill Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

The RACQ CQ Rescue has confirmed the patient is a woman, not a man as initially reported.

"The woman has suffered significant leg and torso injuries in the shark attack incident," the spokeswoman said.

The crew was doing a beacon search in the vicinity of the Bowen area when they were called to the shark attack incident.

"The patient was swimming when she was bitten, she was pulled back on to the (yacht) with significant injuries," the spokeswoman said.

"She was then treated by a doctor who was on the yacht before crews arrived, where she was transferred to a smaller dinghy and then winched by the helicopter."

The helicopter was due to arrive at Mackay Base Hospital by 8pm last night.

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.


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 white while surfing off Moreton Island in October 1992.

UPDATE, 7PM: The RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter is refuelling at Proserpine after winching a shark attack victim in the Whitsundays tonight.

A RACQ CQ Rescue spokeswoman confirmed their chopper had been involved in a winch operation off a vessel at Sawmill Bay at Whitsunday Island, not Lindeman as was initially reported.

The spokeswoman said the patient was being transported to Mackay Base Hospital for further treatment, with a QAS critical care paramedic on board.



EARLIER: A person has been bitten by a shark while swimming off the Whitsunday coast this afternoon.

The RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter is enroute with a Queensland Ambulance Service critical care paramedic on board.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman confirmed the call for assistance came in about 5.15pm with reports a person was bitten by a shark on the leg.

It's believed the person was swimming off a yacht moored near Lindeman Island.



Whitsunday Water Police confirmed they were not required to attend the incident and RACQ CQ Rescue confirmed they were attending an incident in that area, but details were not able to be provided at this stage.

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