A 23-year-old man who was mauled to death by a shark has been remembered as a ‘friendly and genuine bloke’ working in his dream job as a Queensland Park and Wildlife ranger.
Zachery ‘Zach’ Robba died on Monday night a few hours after he was mauled on the southern Barrier Reef, 75km northeast of Gladstone.
"Once again a family out there is grieving for a young man who tragically has lost his life in this horrific shark attack," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Tuesday.
"A lot of his work colleagues, I understand, were very upset today."
The 23-year-old had spent Monday with other rangers doing research and maintenance work on North West Island, and decided to jump in the water for an impulsive swim.
Mr Robba’s colleagues returned to the boat ahead of him when the shark struck.
"They would have witnessed the attack," Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Anderson told reporters on Tuesday.
"There were four people swimming off the back of a boat, cooling down after a day's work."
Mr Robba suffered extensive leg and arm injuries and survived an emergency flight to the Gladstone Hospital, but later died.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has offered her sympathy to the victim's family and says a report will be prepared for the coroner.
"The ranger network is like a family and we have lost a brother today," she said in a statement on Monday.
‘A young Steve Irwin’
Past students from Brisbane's Iona College have shared their sadness over the loss of their former schoolmate’s death.
“This was Zach’s dream job and he embraced all that it entailed,” a spokesperson for Iona College Old Boys' Association wrote on Facebook of the wildlife ranger.
“Every one of us has a Zach shaped hole in our heart. And each shape is unique.”
“One of the friendliest and genuine blokes I’ve had the privilege of having a chat with at a 21st. I remember the pride he had in his voice when telling me he worked as a ranger for QPWS,” one person wrote.
“Zach was so full of life and I’ll always remember him as a young Steve Irwin! Rest in peace,” another person responded.
“A kind and caring person with an infectious smile. Rest in peace mate,” one friend wrote.
The alumni association called for those wishing to pay their respects to keep in mind social distancing rules.
“At the appropriate time we will be available to welcome all Old Boys to gather safely and give thanks for Zach's life”.
Third shark attack in three months
Monday's attack was the third at North West Island in just over three months.
In early January, a nine-year-old girl was attacked by a shark, suffering a bite wound to the back of her leg, and puncture wounds to her foot.
A lemon shark was suspected of that attack.
And in late December a shovelnose shark bit a man in shallow waters at North West Island.
He suffered minor injuries to his right hand and leg.
There have also been a series of other shark attacks on the Great Barrier Reef over the past 18 months.
Last October, two British backpackers were attacked while snorkelling at Hook Island in the Whitsundays. One of the men lost his foot.
In March last year, a 25-year-old man suffered serious thigh injuries when a shark attacked him at Hardy Reef, near Hamilton island, which is also in the Whitsunday Islands chain.
Those attacks followed another fatality in November 2018, when Victorian doctor Daniel Christidis, 33, was killed at Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island.
- with AAP
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