The Whitsundays are set to be covered in baited drum lines today after two shark attacks in less than 24 hours left a Kiwi girl and a woman fighting for their lives in hospital.
A 12-year-old girl, believed to be from New Zealand, was flown to hospital yesterday afternoon after she was bitten on the leg in Cid Harbour, a popular tourist spot in north Queensland's Whitsunday Islands.
The girl, who was holidaying with her father and sister, was due to have surgery last night after the shark mauled her thigh.
Less than 24 hours before the girl's attack, Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick had been attacked in the same harbour, causing her to lose a significant amount of blood.
Fisheries Queensland will set three baited drum lines in the harbour today in a bid to catch the shark or sharks responsible.
"It is possible that there's more than one shark involved in these unfortunate events," the department's shark control programme manager Jeff Krause told the ABC.
"We don't normally go out and search for any sharks that may have been involved in a shark attack but due to the nature of these multiple attacks, Fisheries Queensland is going to deploy three drum lines in a bid to try and catch some of the sharks in that area."
Krause said various types of whaler species as well as bull and tiger sharks can be found in waters around the harbour and he advised against swimming in or near Cid Harbour for the time being. Fisheries officers and water police were also patrolling the area.
The last attack in the area was eight years ago.
The two attacks, both attended by the RACQ helicopter teams, had hit Queensland's paramedics hard, operations manager Tracey Eastwick said.
"It is horrific ... for us as a community of paramedics it is quite confronting to have two similar incidents in the space of less than 24 hours," she told reporters.
Barwick was snorkelling at Cid Harbour on Wednesday evening when the attack occurred.
Barwick, a mother of two, would likely have bled to death without the quick-thinking actions of people in nearby boats.
"I just saw this yacht anchor about 60 metres off my boat, there appeared to be six people on board and they all seemed to be laughing and all that," witness Mark Yates told national broadcaster ABC.
"Twenty minutes later there was this screaming and I thought 'geez, they seem to be having fun', and then the screaming kept continuing and I got up to have a look and I saw them dragging the poor woman out of the water. There was blood everywhere."
In a stroke of luck a rescue helicopter scrambled to the region was just 15 minutes away from the scene due to an earlier operation they'd been undertaking.
The hovering chopper drew the attention of John Hadok, an emergency department doctor from Mackay Base Hospital, who was sailing nearby and soon joined the effort to save Barwick's life.
Hadok's direction ensured correct first aid was given to Barwick, allowing her to be safely winched into the helicopter.
RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter crewman Ben McCauley said the doctor and others who gave first aid to Barwick before she was winched aboard had likely saved her life.
"The original first aid was actually really well done," McCauley told reporters on Thursday.
"We actually didn't have to do anything with the leg, it was pretty much tourniqueted up, bandaged up and bleeding had stopped. They'd done a really good job."
Although he didn't see the wound, McCauley was told Barwick had "quite a big chunk of leg taken" and had suffered arterial bleeding.
"She did suffer a lot of blood loss. There was quite a lot of blood around the boat," McCauley said.
"We were told there was arterial bleeding … quite a big chunk of the leg taken, a few small puncture wounds on her calf muscle."