Wrong place, wrong time: shark attack victim tells of terror

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Phillip Brown in his hospital bed in Cairns.

Phillip Brown in his hospital bed in Cairns.

A man whose leg was mauled by a bull shark off Yarrabah is recovering from his injury in Cairns Hospital.

Phillip Brown, 24, was spearfishing for barramundi with mates at Rocky Island, about 300m off Yarrabah on Sunday morning.

He said when he surfaced from a dive, he spotted a bull shark – estimated to be about 3m long – swimming straight towards him.

‘I was a long way from the rocks, so I tried to swim a bit faster towards the rocks,’ he said.

‘As I just grabbed a rock, he swam up behind me and just grabbed my leg and twisted and popped my knee right out of its socket.’

Mr Brown said he grabbed his speargun and struck the shark on the top of its head, to try and get the apex predator to let go of his leg.

‘The shark took off, but he kept circling because all the blood was still in the water,’ he said.

‘He came back two or three times to have a go (at me), but I was right up in the shallows, and my foot was out of the water.’

Losing blood, Mr Brown called out to his mates to come and rescue him from the rock in their boat.

They turned a piece of rope into a tourniquet, to stem the loss of blood from his wounded leg.

‘We fled straight back to the beach, but the tide was out,’ Mr Brown said.

‘Because it was my boat, I just said to my mate ‘just keep going, brother, keep going through the mud. Just get me to the (mud)bank’.

‘So, they just drove me to the edge of the bank, and there was enough room to carry me up to the truck.’

Mr Brown was rushed to Yarrabah Emergency Department, and then flown to Cairns Hospital for treatment of a large bite mark on his right leg.

Bull sharks are regarded as one of the most dangerous and aggressive shark species in the world, with a high number of attacks on humans attributed to them.

Mr Brown believed the attack was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

‘I go to a lot of places to dive, like Batt Reef, Tongue Reef, and on the Outer Reef, but this happened at home, in my own backyard, right in my own community,’ he said.

He thanked his lucky stars he had been spearfishing with mates, who were able to rescue him in time.

‘I thought it was my last day – he was a big shark,’ he said.