Crocodile Bites Man's Head and Neck in Attack at Lizard Island

A 33-year-old man was rushed to hospital on Wednesday after being attacked by a crocodile while snorkeling off a remote Australian island.

The victim, who has not been named by authorities, reportedly sustained wounds to his head and neck during the encounter, which took place yesterday evening in waters off Lizard Island, which is located on the Great Barrier Reef in north Queensland.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service confirmed in a statement that its personnel responded to the incident and said the patient was believed to be in a stable condition.

The life-saving organization said in a Facebook post: "The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) transferred an adult male patient from Lizard Island to Cairns yesterday evening (Wednesday 23 September) following a crocodile attack."

Multiple local media outlets, citing a spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Science, reported the man was bitten by the crocodile in waters near Anchor Bay, just offshore of the island's luxury holiday resort, at approximately 4 p.m.

The victim received help at the scene before medical experts arrived and was rushed to Cairns Hospital, treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Brisbane Times, which reported the victim had been "bitten on the head and neck."

A department spokesperson told the Cairns Post a team wildlife officers will be sent to Lizard Island and attempt to "locate and remove" the crocodile.

"The manager of the Lizard Island Resort has offered the use of two of the resort's vessels to assist with those efforts," the agency spokesperson added.

According to the Daily Mail, citing the Cairns Post, the victim is believed to be a member of staff at the resort, which is currently closed to guests due to COVID-19. A notice on the business's website says Lizard Island will reopen to guests on 14 December.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) transferred an adult male patient from Lizard Island to Cairns...

Posted by Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia on Thursday, September 24, 2020

According to a newswire report carried by The Australian, the attack was linked to an estuarine (saltwater) crocodile. The species is known to occur on "beaches and offshore islands in the Great Barrier Reef," the Queensland government has said online.

The newswire reported that a previous crocodile sighting in the area had been recorded in May last year. Back in 2015, a 57-year-old man who was snorkeling at Anchor Bay was bitten by an 8-foot crocodile and needed surgery on his left arm.

The resort's website advertises snorkeling on its list of guest activities. The resort has been contacted for comment about the incident by Newsweek.

The government fact-sheet said the average male estuarine crocodile can grow to more than 13 feet in length, with females typically not spanning more than 11 feet. The size of the crocodile that attacked the man this week has not yet been confirmed.

The government warned no waterway in northern Queensland "can ever be considered crocodile free." The estuarine crocodile's prey habits are well documented.

"Full-grown adult estuarine crocodiles are able to feed on whatever they can overpower - sea turtles, goannas, wallabies, feral cats and pigs, dogs, kangaroos, cattle, horses, buffalo and even other crocodiles," a description of the species said.

"[They] wait in ambush at the water's edge and then lunge or snap sideways at animals which come to feed or drink. If the crocodile cannot swallow an animal whole, the crocodile either drags it under the water and twists it in a "death-roll" until it dies, or the crocodile will shake its head in an attempt to break off pieces of the animal to eat."

Saltwater Crocodile
A Saltwater Crocodile is pictured at the Australian Reptile Park January 23, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. The Saltwater Crocodile, the world's largest reptile, is one of Australia's deadliest animals. Ian Waldie/Getty