TWO divers were mauled by a shark after activists opposed the use of shark nets because they say they are cruel.
The Queensland government lost a battle for the right to use nets and drum lines – traps used to lure and capture large sharks using baited hooks – after a battle with animal rights extremists.
A court sided with animal rights groups who said barriers keeping sharks from the shore were inhumane.
But after the ruling Alistair Raddon, 28, and Danny Maggs, 22, both from the UK, were attacked while snorkelling off Queensland, Australia.
Mr Raddon had his right foot bitten off, while Mr Maggs suffered painful lacerations to his leg.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said after the attack: “My main concern is for the welfare of these two people that have been injured in a shark attack.
“I will not shy away from my stance that the drum lines need to go back in.”
Rescuers said the pair had been “wrestling and thrashing about in the water” as the shark attacked them near Airlie Beach, close to the Great Barrier Reef.
It is not known what species mauled the men but the waters are popular with tiger and bull sharks, dozens of which have been caught in the area.
Tracey Eastwick, of Queensland Ambulance Service, said: “One of the male patients was attacked first and the shark is believed to have returned and attacked the second patient.”
The pair were initially treated aboard their pleasure cruise boat by two paramedics who were part of the day trip.
They were then airlifted to hospital where they underwent emergency surgery.
The shark firstly attacked Alistair, from Southampton, before returning to maul Danny, from Plymouth.
The men were plucked from the water by tourists aboard the pleasure boat and given immediate first aid before being taken back to shore.
About 20 people were on the boat when the incident happened.
The attack happened near the Whitsunday Islands, between Queensland’s north-east coast and the Great Barrier Reef, which is home to 88 species of shark.
There have been at least four shark attacks in the region in the past year – including one on 12-year-old Hannah Papps, who had to have her leg amputated.
And mother-of-two Justine Barwick, 46, was bitten on her left thigh while snorkelling.