A 42-year-old Australian man died Saturday after a suspected stingray attack while he was swimming at a beach, police said.
The unidentified man was in the water near Lauderdale Beach around 3 p.m. Saturday when he was stung by a stingray, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported. He suffered an injury to his lower abdomen and went into cardiac arrest.
“Attempts to resuscitate the male were unsuccessful,” Tasmania police said in a statement. “…He was removed from the water by friends prior to the arrival of emergency services. It was reported he was unaccompanied in the water at the time of sustaining a puncture wound to his lower abdomen.”
In 2006, Australian conservationist and Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin died after a stingrays serrated barb pierced his heart while filming off the Great Barrier Reef.
The man’s friends and family gathered at the beach Sunday and held a private ceremony, ABC reported.
The beach, about 9 miles east of Hobart in Tasmania, is a popular swimming destination but also known to have smooth stingrays, the largest kind in Australia, and skates lurking in the water. Smooth stingrays are considered not aggressive and seen by divers, the Australian Museum wrote on its website.
"So sad. I have seen large stingrays in shallows at Lauderdale Beach while wading," a Facebook user wrote on ABC’s post.
Clarence Mayor Doug Chipman said Saturday officials would consider closing the beach if necessary following the man’s death.
We have to find out if this is a one-off tragic accident or whether theres a wider threat to the community, Chipman said.
"It's a dreadful accident, I'm actually shocked. My prayers go out to the family and friends of the man,” Chipman told ABC. "I'm not aware of any other stingray attacks on the beach there but we will be taking advice from the experts and from Tasmania Police in terms of public safety."
The 42-year-olds death came more than a decade after world-renowned "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed when a stingray barb punctured his chest while he was filming on the famed Great Barrier Reef.
The man was swimming close to shore when the attack happened. The police statement did not name the man.
The man was in waters off Lauderdale Beach some 23 kilometres (14 miles) from Hobart in the southern island state of Tasmania Saturday when he "sustained a puncture wound to his lower abdomen… possibly inflicted by a marine animal", police said.
He was brought onto the beach by friends but suffered a heart attack and was unable to be resuscitated, police added.
"Its consistent with (a stingray injury) but further investigation and examination of the deceased may be able to give a bit more of a concrete fact on that," Tasmania Police Senior Constable Brett Bowering told the Sunday Tasmanian.
Commonly found in tropical waters, stingrays rarely attack humans but their barbs, at the end of their tails, are coated in toxic venom which they use to defend themselves when threatened.
In the first shark attack of the weekend, a man taking part in a surf lesson off the east coast suffered serious cuts after an encounter on Saturday.
The 24-year-old was wading waist-deep in waters off Seven Mile Beach some 130 kilometres (81 miles) south of Sydney when he "felt a forceful lashing motion against his legs", New South Wales Ambulance said.
He had "significant cuts and haemorrhage as well as several puncture wounds to his wetsuit and right leg… and cuts to his hand", NSW Ambulance duty operations manager Inspector Jordan Emery told reporters Saturday.
That attack was followed by another on Sunday off the north coast, when a teenage boy was bitten on his arm and leg while spearfishing, police said.
The 17-year-old was spearfishing from a vessel off the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory when he sustained "significant injuries" to his arm, St John Ambulance told national broadcaster ABC.
"Obviously theres quite a large amount of bleeding thats occurred," St John Ambulances Craig Garraway said.
He said shark encounters in the NT were unusual, adding: "Ive been around a long time and Ill be honest, I cant remember a shark attack."
The two attacks are the sixth and seventh off Australian beaches in two months, amid public debate about how to reduce the risk of encounters between sharks and the growing number of people using the ocean for leisure.
There have been 13 "unprovoked" shark attacks off the vast continents coast this year, including one death after a swimmer was mauled by a shark in the Whitsunday Islands in early November, according to data from Sydneys Taronga Zoo.
There were 15 attacks – one fatal – last year, and 17 encounters and two deaths in 2016, the data showed.
New South Wales hosted an international conference with marine experts in 2015 after a sharp increase in attacks across Australia that year to 22, including the death of a Japanese surfer after his legs were torn off by a shark.
The state, Australias most populous, has trialled non-lethal measures such as aerial drones to track shark movements and "smart" drum lines that alert authorities to their presence.