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Aussie man 'pried open jaws' of crocodile from his head during snorkelling attack

"I thought it was a shark but when I reached up I realised it was a crocodile," the 51-year-old tourist recalled.

A Gold Coast man has described the moment he claims he freed himself from a crocodile after prying open "its jaws around my head" during a snorkelling excursion on Saturday.

Marcus McGowan, 51, was in the water approximately 40 kilometres off the Cape York Coast in Queensland, enjoying a stay at an eco-resort in the far north of the country, when the saltwater crocodile approached him from behind and attacked.

"I thought it was a shark but when I reached up I realised it was a crocodile," he said in a statement released by the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service.

"I was able to lever its jaws open just far enough to get my head out."

A crocodile can be seen swimming in water.
The crocodile attacked Marcus McGowan from behind and clamped its jaws around his head. Source: Getty (file)

After freeing his head from the crocodile's jaws the animal attempted to attack Marcus again and the snorkeler pushed it away with his right hand which was then bitten by the approximately six-foot-long animal.

The group in the water, including Marcus and his wife, all managed to swim safely to the boat where he received first aid treatment while the crew rushed back to shore.

Following the attack he was taken back to Haggerstone Island where he was flown to Thursday Island Hospital before the Royal Flying Doctor service transported him to a hospital in Cairns on Sunday, 7News reported.

Plane and ambulance pictured.
The 51-year-old said he was simply 'in the wrong place, at the wrong time'. Source: 7News

Snorkelling victim is 'grateful it was me'

Reflecting on the attack from hospital, Marcus said he was "grateful" the crocodile targeted him rather than the children or other members of the group he was with on the excursion.

"I was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time," he said.

"[I] understand that when you enter the marine environment, you are entering territory that belongs to potentially dangerous animals, such as sharks and crocodiles."

The 51-year-old suffered scalp lacerations and puncture wounds to his head and hand, the Cairns Post reports.

This incident comes several years after another man who was attacked by a crocodile in far north Queensland was able to pry open the animal's jaws and free himself, with the 44-year-old sustaining similar injuries to his hand and head.

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