Sharks killed after attacks on woman and girl in the Great Barrier Reef

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Two sharks have been killed after a woman and a girl were attacked within 24 hours of each other at the same tourist spot in the Great Barrier Reef.

Both victims were mauled while swimming among the Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast of Australia earlier this week, and they each remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The girl, 12, from Melbourne, was bitten on the leg, as was the woman, who has been named as Justine Barwick, 46, from Tasmania.

Justine Barwick, from Tasmania, was bitten on the leg by a shark while swimming at Cid Harbour in Australia's Whitsunday Islands and flown to Mackay Base Hospital on 19 September 2018.  Sharks killed after attacks on woman and girl in the Great Barrier Reef shark attack australia queensland 4427520
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Justine Barwick, from Tasmania, was flown to Mackay Base Hospital

It is not known whether either of the tiger sharks killed on Sunday were responsible for one or both of the attacks, but local authorities decided to put deadly traps in place despite objections from conservationists and marine scientists.

Drum lines with baited hooks were used to catch the predators, one of which measured 3.3m (11ft) long.

The traps will remain in place for the next week to keep swimmers safe, a Fisheries Queensland spokesman said, although shark attacks are very rare in the Whitsundays.

According to Australian broadcaster ABC, the two attacks this week were the first in eight years.

The Whitsunday Islands are off the Queensland coast  Sharks killed after attacks on woman and girl in the Great Barrier Reef skynews whitsunday islands 4427608
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The Whitsunday Islands are off the Queensland coast

“While sharks of this size are potentially very dangerous to humans, it is unclear if they were responsible for injuries caused to two swimmers this week,” the fisheries spokesman admitted.

“The shark carcasses will be towed well out to sea for disposal.”

Fisheries officers and water police are also patrolling the Whitsundays, while swimmers have been told to stay out of the water for the foreseeable future.

Objections to the killings are based on the manner of the drum lines, which are a blunt instrument that can catch other marine life – not just potentially dangerous sharks.

New South Wales has trialled non-lethal measures to reduce the risk of shark attacks, notably aerial drones to track their movements and alert authorities to their presence.



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