Lemon Shark Bites 7-Year-Old Girl in Second Attack by Great Barrier Reef in Two Weeks

An elementary school-aged child was taken to hospital on Wednesday after being bitten by a shark while swimming off the coast of Australia, rescue officials say.

The incident occurred at about 5:30 p.m. in waters off North West Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef, which is northeast of Gladstone, Queensland.

According to The Brisbane Times, the victim sustained a bite to the back of the leg and was wounded on the foot. Despite initial local media reports that the child was nine, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) later confirmed the victim was aged seven.

A spokesperson for Queensland Ambulance Service told the Brisbane Times the child's injuries were initially treated by a nurse who was at the scene.

The unnamed victim was taken with her mother to Heron Island by a private boat where they met with a LifeFlight rescue team and were flown to hospital.

"Bundaberg's RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter has flown a primary school-aged girl to hospital tonight, after she was reportedly bitten by a lemon shark. Thankfully the little one traveled in a stable condition," the team wrote in a Facebook post.

"The crew briefly returned to base, before being re-tasked on a hospital transfer, from the North Burnett region. A long night, but it's easy when you're helping save Queensland lives."

A spokesperson for the crew told The Brisbane Times: "She had a confrontation with what we believe is a lemon shark and managed to get her foot into the shark's mouth somehow."

The child is believed to regularly vacation at the North West Island with family members.

The Queensland Ambulance Service and LifeFlight have been contacted for comment.

According to 9News, the shark bite marked the second Bundaberg LifeFlight rescue in relation to an attack at the island in recent weeks. On December 30, a man was airlifted in stable condition with hand and knee injuries believed to have been caused by a shovel nose shark.

The Queensland government says lemon sharks can reach 10-feet long with colors ranging "from pale yellow to light brown or grey on the upper surface and pale underneath."

Of the 400 known species of shark worldwide, roughly 180 are said to frequent Australian waters, the country's Department of Environment and Energy notes online.

"Several species of shark are... dangerous to humans: the white shark, tiger shark, bull shark and other whaler sharks. No shark is thought to target humans as prey, rather the majority of attacks can be attributed to the shark confusing us with its normal prey," officials say.

On January 5, police in Australia responded to a report about a fatal shark attack close to Cull Island, Esperance. The victim, diver Gary Johnson, has been missing since the suspected white shark encounter. His dive tank was found on the sea floor, police confirmed.

The man's wife, Karen, released an emotional statement via social media.

"He loved diving. He loved squash. He loved his work. He loved Esperance. Most of all he loved his friends and families. He and I were at home in and on the ocean," she wrote.

"We would go out diving in our boat whenever we could, most weekends. We took photos, not fish. We were always aware of the risks, and often told each other that if we were attacked by a shark, that would just be unlucky. We were completely against shark culling and I still am."

Stock: Lemon Shark
File photo: A Lemon Shark glides through the water in the Bahamas Banks. A child was taken to hospital this week after being bitten by a shark while swimming off the coast of Australia, officials say. iStock
Lemon Shark Bites 7-Year-Old Girl in Second Attack by Great Barrier Reef in Two Weeks | World