The two men, Danny Maggs, 22, and Alistair Raddon, 28, were snorkeling in the well-known snorkeling area of Hook Passage off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands when they were attacked. Maggs suffered lacerations on his lower leg, while Raddon lost his right foot. The two tourists were taken to Mackay Hospital in Queensland by helicopter.
The men had been "wrestling and thrashing about in the water in Hook Passage when the attack occurred," the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland reported. Both of the men were in “serious but stable condition,” according to the service.
Following a string of attacks along the Great Barrier Reef region, tourism operators are calling for aerial shark patrols to be established in the area, AFP reported. In one incident last year, a 12-year-old girl lost her leg, and in another, a man died from his injuries after being attacked by a shark.
According to the Tash Wheeler, the CEO of Tourism Whitsundays - which aims to promote “the Whitsunday region as a tourism destination,” according to the company’s website - the number of tourists visiting the area has decreased in recent years, partly due to shark attacks. There were 27 attacks in the area in 2018, according to data from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.
"Looking back over the last 12 months I can certainly say that there has been some impact to our industry in terms of visitation," Wheelers told reporters, according to AFP. The latest figures reveal that international visitors to the area had decreased by more than 6% to 226,000 as of March 2019. Wheeler also noted that tourism operators are trying to obtain government funding for aerial patrols as an “interim measure” while the shark attacks in an area considered safe for swimming are investigated.
Following the most recent attack Tuesday, the Queensland government said it would install 32 drum lines, a type of unmanned shark trap, along swimming areas in the Whitsunday Islands region just a month after it pulled out dozens of drum lines due to the country’s Federal Court ruling that such traps should be removed and that sharks found alive in the traps had to be released. The court ruling came after a lawsuit by Humane Society International.
The Humane Society International, which launched the court action, denied the most recent attack was linked to the rolling back of "outdated" shark control practices.
"Installing more traditional drum lines to cull sharks is an ineffective knee jerk reaction. It doesn't work," Lawrence Chlebeck, a spokesperson for the Humane Society, said following the Queensland government’s recent decision to reinstall drum lines.