Whodunit? Not a shark, more likely this...



A WOMAN screamed out that she still loved sharks as she was being wheeled away on a stretcher after a suspected attack in waters off Cairns.

A rescue helicopter was sent to Fitzroy Island after 29-year-old tourist Anika Craney suffered significant injuries to her lower left leg, including a possible ankle fracture and cuts, while swimming near Welcome Bay off a private boat about midday yesterday.

Ms Craney, who lost her home in the Carbago (NSW) bushfire earlier this year, was taken to Cairns Hospital after doctors on the island treated her until paramedics arrived and applied a tourniquet to her leg.

"I still love sharks, sharks are beautiful," Ms Craney said as she was being taken into the hospital.

She was part of a five-member crew in the far north to film an online documentary series about marine life and was bitten on Shark Appreciation Day.


A Facebook image of Anika Craney
A Facebook image of Anika Craney


Anika Craney arrives at Cairns Hospital. Picture: Brian Cassey
Anika Craney arrives at Cairns Hospital. Picture: Brian Cassey


The bite turned into a whodunit early on, with ambulance services and tourism leaders at odds over whether a shark or another marine animal was responsible for Ms Craney's injuries.

Queensland Ambulance Service Flight Critical Care paramedic Terry Cummings said the damage was consistent with a shark bite.

"As you would expect from a shark bite to the lower leg, there was a bit of blood loss," he said.

But Fitzroy Island Resort management initially denied the woman had been attacked by a shark, before later going on to say it remained unclear.

"There is a bit of confusion over (if it was a shark bite)" Fitzroy Island Resort CEO Glen Macdonald said.

"No one's actually seen the shark that we're aware of, and the girl had admitted herself that she hadn't seen anything either.

"She was just aware that she had been bitten, but she was unable to confirm exactly what had bitten her."

Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators CEO Gareth Phillips said it was unlikely the injury was a shark bite.



"The descriptions of the wounds, and I've seen a number of shark attacks in my career, it is not conducive to that, however I wasn't there but just from the description it is unlikely," said Mr Philips, who is a marine scientist.

He believed the bite could have been from a giant trevally.

The captain of the boat Ms Craney was swimming off said she was enjoying a day off from filming the documentary and was swimming to shore to when she was bitten.

"As they got close, a shark grabbed her on the ankle and she kicked at it," Dean Cropp said.

He said he spoke to Ms Craney when she arrived at the hospital and she was in high spirits.

"A bit groggy from all the drugs, but she continues to say that we shouldn't blame sharks because we're in their world," he said.

It comes as Queensland's tourism industry continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19 amid a significant job loss to the sector.

Sunshine Coast man Matthew Tratt was killed by a shark while fishing off Indian Head on Fraser Island on July 4, and one week later, Mani Hart-Deville, 15, was fatally mauled by a shark while surfing at Wooli Beach (NSW).






Originally published as Whodunit? Not a shark, more likely this...