A 59-year-old man was in a critical condition after being attacked by a shark along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on Sunday.

According to local media reports, Rick Bettua was bitten on the thigh while spearfishing with a friend at Britomart Reef, 120 kilometres north of Townsville in North Queensland.

It is believed that the former United States Navy diver was attacked by a bull shark.
He was returned to shore around 2 pm (0400 GMT) and flown to Townsville University Hospital where he has since undergone surgery.

“Yesterday my brother Rick was attacked in Australia by a bull shark,” John Bettua posted in the Tampa Bay Spearfishing Facebook group on Monday.

“Please keep him in your prayers as he goes thru [sic] surgery to his thigh.” Paramedic Riyi Yin described Bettua’s injuries as “quite severe.”

“He had sustained a significant bite to his upper left thigh and had also suffered significant blood loss,” Yin told Seven News on Monday.

Yin added that while he had a pulse, Bettua had to be resuscitated when paramedics arrived. This year has been one of the worst years on record for shark attacks in Australia.

So far eight people have been killed in 2020, the most recent casualty being 52-year-old surfer Andrew Sharpe who was attacked earlier this month in Esperance along Western Australia’s south coast.

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