Swimmer mauled in suspected shark attack off the coast of Australia

A sign at Sydney's Manly Beach warning of a shark sighting.
A sign at Sydney's Manly Beach warning of a shark sighting. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - A swimmer on Saturday (Jan 2) suffered wounds to his arms and legs after he was mauled in a suspected shark attack off Queensland state on Australia's east coast, officials said.

The latest reported attack comes during the busy summer season, and as the authorities in neighbouring New South Wales implement a range of shark-prevention measures to reduce encounters after a spate of maulings in the state last year.

The 30-year-old man was swimming off Rosslyn Bay some 670km north of Brisbane just before 12pm local time when he was believed to have been bitten by a shark, the state's ambulance service said.

"(He has) lacerations to the arms and legs," an ambulance spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

"He is still being assessed. He's just arrived to the shore now and will be transferred to Rockhampton Hospital shortly."

The man was believed to have been snorkelling off Miall Island near Rosslyn Bay, a local coast guard officer told Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper.

"From what I understand he was snorkelling a bit off the beach and said he saw a lot of fish and then the shark came out of nowhere," Yeppoon Coast Guard flotilla commander Arthur Hunt said. "It's the first shark attack we've had up here in a while - I've been (with the coast guard) for seven years and this is my first."

There were 14 attacks in New South Wales last year - include the fatal mauling of a Japanese surfer - compared with three in 2014, according to Sydney's Taronga Zoo's shark attack file.

In Queensland, there were four attacks in 2015, compared with one in 2014, taking last year's national toll to 22, it said.

Experts say attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore, but fatalities remain rare.