Croc attack - Haggerstone Island - patient media statement

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A man has been attacked by a saltwater crocodile off the coast of Cape York.

Marcus McGowan shares his experience after being attacked by a saltwater crocodile while snorkelling 40km off the coast of Cape York.

On Saturday, 27 May after a morning out fishing, we anchored at the Charles Hardy Islands for lunch and a quick snorkel in crystal clear waters approx. 40km off the Cape York Coast. I was snorkelling with my wife and a group of friends and while checking out some coral and fish and talking to a fellow snorkeller, I was attacked from behind by a saltwater crocodile which got its jaws around my head.

I thought it was a shark but when I reached up I realised it was a crocodile. I was able to lever its jaws open just far enough to get my head out.

The crocodile then attempted to attack me a second time, but I managed to push it away with my right hand, which was then bitten by the croc.

I was able to escape the crocodile’s grip once again and swim to the safety of the boat which was coming after they heard our screams for help.

As this incident occurred so suddenly, I was unable to estimate the crocodile’s exact size, but believe it may have been a juvenile (2-3m long).

The vessel’s crew rushed me to Haggerstone Island approximately 45 minutes away where I was administered first aid en-route by my mate who I was snorkelling with. He is a fireman so he knew what he was doing. He bandaged me up and also had to give me antibiotic shots to prevent any infection.

An emergency helicopter arrived to transport me to Thursday Island Hospital for treatment, where I was assessed; and I was later taken to Cairns Hospital for further treatment to my scalp lacerations and puncture wounds on my head and hand.

I live on the Gold Coast and am a keen surfer and diver, and understand that when you enter the marine environment, you are entering territory that belongs to potentially dangerous animals, such as sharks and crocodiles.

I was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

I’m just grateful it was me and not one of the kids or ladies in the group.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me during this ordeal, including staff at Haggerstone Island Resort, rescue helicopter crew, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Thursday Island and Cairns hospitals.

I have discussed this incident with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

While I concentrate on recovering from my injuries, I am asking media to please respect my privacy.