PERTH, AUSTRALIA – A woman received serious injuries to her arm when she was mauled by a small shark on Monday as she snorkeled off Australia’s remote northwest coast, officials said.
The 60-year-old woman was attacked by a 39-inch reef shark at Turquoise Bay, a picturesque tourist spot south of the coastal town of Exmouth, the Fisheries Department said.
She had been snorkeling with her partner about 40 yards from the beach when she was bitten, it said.
“The couple have reported the shark initially showed signs of aggression toward him, then turned and bit the woman on the arm,” the department’s Shark Response Unit manager, Lisa Clack, said in a statement.
The woman would be flown from Exmouth hospital more than 740 miles to the Western Australia state capital, Perth, for surgery on her right arm, Royal Flying Doctor Service spokeswoman Joanne Hill said.
Hill described her injuries as serious but not life threatening. The beach was closed to the public following the attack and will likely remain closed Tuesday as rangers assess the shark danger, the Fisheries Department statement said.
Earlier this month, a 55-year-old professional diver was seriously injured by a suspected great white shark near the town of Esperance on the Western Australia southern coast.
It was the second time diver Greg Pickering found himself in the jaws of a shark. In 2004, he was bitten on the leg while spearfishing near Cervantes, north of Perth.
Sharks are common in Australian waters, though the nation has averaged just more than one fatal attack per year over the past 50 years.