A spearfisher nearly lost his arm in a shark attack off Australia’s west coast on Friday, officials and local media reported. In a news release, Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries said multiple agencies responded to a “serious shark bite incident” that occurred offshore from Port Hedland.
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The victim, identified by The Australian newspaper as Robbie Peck, was bitten by an unknown species of shark after he had speared a fish. Authorities said he was taken to shore and attended to by St John’s Ambulance before being transported to hospital.
A Royal Flying Doctor Service spokesperson told Australian Associated Press the man suffered multiple injuries and his left arm had “nearly been severed.” Health officials said the man was in stable condition, the outlet reported.
Peck’s wife, Emily, told 7News Australia said she was stunned when she learned about the attack.
“Just that sinking feeling in your gut and I swear all of the blood just drained from my face,” she told the network. “It’s not a phone call you ever want to get. You expect the worse straight away when you hear shark attack.”
Shark attacks increased around the world in 2021 following three consecutive years of decline, officials said in January. The U.S. once again reported the most unprovoked shark bites in 2021, with 47 confirmed cases — 64% of the worldwide total. Australia had the second most unprovoked incidents with 12, researchers said.
According to the website Tracking Sharks, there have been at least 11 shark attack bites in Australia this year, including one fatality. In February, beach communities in Sydney, Australia were rocked by the first deadly shark attack in decades.