The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) received a report of a shark attack near Coral Bay at 11:14 a.m. local time on Friday (11:14 p.m. Thursday, EDT). The boy was swimming at Five Fingers Reef and was bitten on the foot, according to Australia’s Brisbane Times.
He received treatment for his injuries at the Coral Bay Nursing Post and was being flown to Perth Children’s Hospital for further care. The boy’s injuries are not thought to be life-threatening, according to the report.
The DPIRD confirmed to PerthNow that a two-meter bronze whaler shark was behind the attack, and a shark that size was spotted at the reef about 75 metres offshore minutes after the incident was reported. The Five Fingers Reef has been closed while the incident is investigated.
The Australian government’s SharkSmart service, which provides information on shark activity, said people should take additional care in the Coral Bay area and “adhere to beach closures advised by Local Government Rangers, Parks and Wildlife Service officers or Surf Life Saving WA.”
Five Fingers Reef is located about 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) south of Coral Bay. It’s only accessible by a four-wheel drive vehicle or by foot.
Australia’s Coral Coast describes the reef as home to many colorful reef fish and other marine life, including turtles.
The bronze whaler shark, also known as a copper shark, is a large shark that can grow up to three meters in length. They are often seen close to the shore, feeding on schooling fish.
The Shark Research Institute stated that the shark has been implicated in biting humans and that it’s an “active, fast-moving shark.”
Friday’s attack is not the first time someone has been bitten by a shark near Coral Bay.
In March this year, Jackson Howson, 27, was spearfishing in the area when he was bitten on the leg by a shark.
Howson told Australia’s 7News he swam back to his boat using his spear gun to try and keep the shark away from him.
Girlfriend Maddie Naylor-Pratt, a trainee paramedic, applied first aid with a makeshift tourniquet and drove the boat back to shore. Howson received surgery for his injuries and later said of his girlfriend: “I wouldn’t want to be in that situation either, but I guess she’s studying paramedics so clearly she’ll make a pretty good one.”