ATTACK: A seven-year-old girl was bitten by a lemon shark near North West Island, Queensland. Picture: Alex Kydd
ATTACK: A seven-year-old girl was bitten by a lemon shark near North West Island, Queensland. Picture: Alex Kydd

‘Innocent bystander’: Bad habits lead to shark bite

A SEVEN-year-old girl who was bitten by a shark near North West Island is an "innocent" victim of months of bad behaviour, according to a tourism operator.

On Wednesday about 5.30pm the girl was bitten by a what was suspected to be a lemon shark, causing cuts to her left foot and ankle.

Wide Bay ambulance service superintendent and operations manager Rick Tenthy said the girl was recovering in Bundaberg Hospital yesterday.

"(Her injuries) are not life threatening," Mr Tenthy said.

Curtis Ferry Services owner Adam Balkin, who operates the North West Island barge service, said the attack was likely the result of campers filleting fish near the beach.

"She's been an innocent bystander … people have been doing the wrong thing over the last few months," Mr Balkin said.

"It's taught (the shark) if it swims at that time it will get fed."

He said if campers did not start to do the right thing, there would be more shark attacks.

It is recommended anglers dump fish scraps at least 500 metres seaward of the reef edge.

It was the second time a rescue helicopter was called to the island in less than 10 days.

On December 30 a man in his 30s was flown to Gladstone Hospital after he was reportedly bitten by a shovel-nose ray at North West Island.

Wednesday night's rescue involved the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue and Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Mr Tenthy said it was lucky a registered nurse was at the scene and immediately treated the girl's injuries.

The girl and her mother were boated to Heron Island, where they met Gladstone paramedics.

She was flown to Bundaberg Hospital in a stable condition.

"Of course when we first get a request to attend to someone who has had an incident involving a shark we take it very seriously," Mr Tenthy said.

"When (paramedics) arrived, they found the young lady had been well cared for by a nurse at the scene.

"She (was) doing very well (yesterday)."

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Reef Protection acting general manager Belinda Jago said warning signs would be installed at North West Island this week advising visitors about the recent incidents and reiterating the importance of not feeding fish in the lagoon area.

"It's really important not to feed wildlife in the ocean, which includes discarding food scraps overboard," Ms Jago said.

"Feeding fish to lure them closer to view, or take photos, changes behaviour and can attract larger animals and have unintended consequences."

The Queensland Department of Environment and Science has issued a Shark Smart alert for Capricornia Cays, Curtis Island and Keppel Bay Islands.

Visitors are urged not to swim at dusk or dawn, always swim in clear water, do not swim where fish are being cleaned and never swim, surf, snorkel or dive alone.