Shark attack off Australia injures snorkeller

A woman suffered serious injuries after being bitten by a shark while snorkelling off remote Western Australia, officials said. -- FILE PHOTO: SINGTEL
A woman suffered serious injuries after being bitten by a shark while snorkelling off remote Western Australia, officials said. -- FILE PHOTO: SINGTEL

SYDNEY (AFP) - A woman suffered serious injuries after being bitten by a shark while snorkelling off remote Western Australia, officials said.

The woman, 60, was with her partner when she was attacked by the one-metre long shark on Monday at Turquoise Bay in the state's rugged northwest, sustaining serious injuries to her right arm.

"The couple have reported the shark initially showed signs of aggression towards him, then turned and bit the woman on the arm," said Lisa Clack, shark response unit manager at the Department of Fisheries.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service, which flew the woman from Exmouth to Perth for treatment, said the woman's injuries were "very severe" but not life threatening.

"She's currently in a stable condition," a spokeswoman for the Royal Perth Hospital said.

It is not known what species of shark was involved in the attack which occurred some 40 metres from the shoreline.

The fisheries department suggested it was a type of reef shark, which prefer shallow waters. Some species of reef shark have been known to attack humans.

Sharks are common in Australian waters but deadly attacks are rare.

Marine scientists have described Australia's west coast as the deadliest shark attack zone in the world, and a tagging and tracking programme has been launched in a bid to limit fatalities.

The last shark fatality in Australia, in July 2012, was off the west coast.

In that case a surfer was bitten in half, capping an unprecedented spate of five deadly attacks by the marine predators that sparked calls for a cull.