GLADSTONE freediving champion John Pengelly was bitten by a three metre bull shark while diving at Lamont Reef early yesterday morning.
The 19-year-old suffered deep lacerations to his wrist and lower forearm while spearfishing at the reef, 44 nautical miles east of Gladstone.
After receiving treatment from medical staff on Herron Island he was flown to Rockhampton and air-lifted to Brisbane for surgical assessment.
At the time of print Mr Pengelly was in a stable condition.
Diving with fellow Curtis Coast Spearfishing members David Jenson and Nat Keene, it was their first dive of the day when the shark came from below and bit Mr Pengelly.
“The shark nipped him on the hand, but it was not an aggressive nip but an enquiry nip,” said Mark Brookes, president of Curtis Coast Spearfishing club, who was also diving at the time.
Mr Brookes said he was surprised by the shark’s strike as there seemed to be no reason for the shark to be aggressive.
“The reason spearfishers attract attention from sharks is when they shoot a fish it flaps around and grabs the attention of the shark. But John hadn’t shot anything,” Mr Brookes said. “It was a shock as it was totally unprovoked.”
Mr Jenson said it was simply a case of mistaken identity.
“There were two guys together and to the shark they probably looked like a turtle,” he said.
“John was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Mr Keene told The Observer sharks were “just something you deal with”.
“As spearfishers you know that you are going into a shark’s habitat. As lovers of the ocean we are respectful of the fish and sharks and the shark was just doing its job,” he said.