CAIRNS, Australia – A 38-year-old Australian man bled to death Saturday after he was rescued from the jaws of a shark while spearfishing on the Great Barrier Reef (search), authorities said.
A marine biologist said Sunday he would examine the victim's wounds to determine the size and type of shark responsible for the attack in the World Heritage-listed marine park, an internationally renowned tourist destination.
The man, who has not yet been identified, was fishing alone at Opal Reef (search) about 60 yards from his group's boat when his two friends saw the attack, police said in a statement.
His friends maneuvered the boat over to pick him up and "noticed that there was a pool of blood around him," police said.
Steve Akers from the Queensland state Rescue Helicopter Service was one of the first to arrive at the scene with a doctor, but the victim was already dead.
"They (the friends) heard him scream; they went over to him and obviously there was blood in the water and that is all they saw," Akers said. "(They) then dragged him onto the vessel and then proceeded to stem the bleeding but obviously it didn't work."
The man suffered extensive wounds to his left leg, including a severed artery, police said.
The body was flown by helicopter to Cairns, 1,050 miles north of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, where it will be examined.
Shark researcher and marine biologist Richard Fitzpatrick said an eyewitness report that the shark pushed its victim vertically out of the water made him suspect it was a bull shark (search) or a black whaler (search).
"By looking at the bite, it will help determine the kind of shark it was and if it was a whaler, tiger or even something else like a great hammerhead," Fitzpatrick told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio before he had examined the injuries.
"Sounds like the incident is the result of people spearfishing in the water and as soon as there is blood or vibrations from the fish, sharks will come in to investigate and will come quite close to the divers," he added.
The Great Barrier Reef, which at 1,200 miles is the world's longest chain of coral reefs and islands, is a major attraction for international tourists.
The last fatal shark attack in Australia was in July when a surfer was mauled in Western Australia state.
American tourists Tom and Eileen Lonergan are believed to have been eaten by sharks or drowned after a dive boat crew accidentally abandoned them on the reef in 1998 in a tragedy that inspired this year's movie, "Open Water."