A Chinese national could have been murdered, thrown off a ship and eaten by sharks in waters off far north Queensland, a coroner has ruled.
Sun Peng disappeared from the Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier Great Talent in March last year, hours after a fight with another crew member.
Police were unable to determine whether he had fallen overboard or whether been murdered and thrown off the deck into the waters off Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula.
They found it likely his body would have been eaten by sharks.
In a written judgment Coroner Jane Bentley agreed with the police conclusions, and said she could not determine how Mr Peng met his death.
"It is clear that if Mr Peng was alive when he left the vessel, he would not have survived for any length of time in the water around the vessel, and, if he was not alive, his body would have been disposed of very quickly by the predatory marine life in the area," she said.
She listed the cause of death as "undetermined but suspicious".
The inquest in the Cairns Coroners Court last month heard Mr Peng had become involved in a drunken argument with crew member, Sun Wendong.
Witnesses reported seeing Mr Peng and Mr Wendong push and shove each other before smashing glassware in the room.
The crew awoke the next morning to find extensive blood trails all over the ship, but no sign of Mr Peng.
Mr Wendong has denied stabbing Mr Peng and throwing him overboard.