Tributes flow for 23-year-old killed in shark attack
Tributes are flowing for Queensland Parks and Wildlife ranger Zach Robba who tragically died after he was attacked by a shark off North West Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef late yesterday.
Mr Robba, aged 23, was flown to Gladstone Hospital with life threatening injuries after what was the third shark attack in the area since December 30. But he succumbed to his injuries late last night.
His younger brother Max told The Courier-Mail Mr Robba was 'overjoyed" at getting the news he would be working in Gladstone because he had always loved national parks and wildlife.
Max called his brother a "kind young bloke who loved his family and friends very much".
"He was always willing to help people out and go through life behind the scenes without any notice," Max said.
"He always loved Parks and Wildlife since he was little, so when he found out he was coming up to Gladstone to go out to the reef he was overjoyed.
"He passed away doing what he loved doing the most - swimming in the ocean and working for Parks and Wildlife."
In a post online, his former school Iona College, stated he was working in his "dream job" when he died.
"Zach, a Queensland Park and Wildlife ranger was the victim of a shark attack yesterday afternoon, while working in water on the southern Barrier Reef. The group of rangers were undertaking research and essential maintenance on North West Island," the post read.
"This was Zach's dream job and he embraced all that it entailed."
Mr Robba graduated from the school in 2014.
Everyone at the school has a "Zach-shaped hole in our heart", the post read.
"While we encourage Old Boys to reach out and support each other, please be mindful of the current restrictions imposed on us all. It is really important to try and follow the social distancing guidelines given for the safety of all," the statement read.
"At this difficult time, we keep all Ionians in our prayers who are affected by this very sad loss.
"Every one of us has a Zach-shaped hole in our heart. And each shape is unique.
"At the appropriate time we will be available to welcome all Old Boys to gather safely and give thanks for Zach's life."
"Our faith asks us to believe that death is a comma, not a full stop. Zach joins our Old Boy Ionians in eternal life."
Mr Robba suffered extensive leg, hand and elbow injuries in the attack shortly after 5pm but died from his injuries in Gladstone Hospital just after 10pm.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed this morning he was a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services ranger.
It's understood he was from Brisbane and was researching for Parks and Wildlife on North West Island.
"Once again, a family out there is grieving for a young man who has tragically lost his life in a horrific shark attack, so our condolences to the family and there are a lot of his work colleagues who I understand are very upset today," she said.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has also given her condolences to the family of Mr Robba.
Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Anderson said "The rangers were taking the opportunity, while the parks were closed, to do some essential maintenance out there," he said.
"At the end of the day there were four people swimming off the back of a boat, cooling down after a day's work."
Det Snr Sgt Anderson said the victim was the last person to get out of the water, and as he attempted to swim back he was attacked by the shark.
It is unknown at this stage what type of shark it was.
"It is a charter boat, however it has been chartered to the government and used by the national parks service," Det Snr Sgt Anderson said.
After the attack, a rescue helicopter was dispatched from Rockhampton with critical care paramedics on board.
A paramedic was winched down to the beach and taken to the injured man on a tender vessel. The victim was then winched on to the helicopter alongside the paramedic but succumbed to his injuries five hours later.
A report will be prepared for the Coroner.
It is the third reported shark attack in the area since December 30.
A nine-year-old girl suffered a bite wound to the back of her leg and puncture wounds to her foot during an attack in January.
She sustained the injuries near North West Island about 5.30pm on January 8 and paramedics at the time said the girl was lucky a registered nurse was in the area and managed to stem the bleeding.
The girl was reportedly swimming when she was attacked by what's believed to have been a lemon shark.
That attack came a little more than a week after a 30-year-old man was bitten by a shovelnose shark off the same island on December 30.
The man sustained minor leg injuries and was airlifted to hospital.
It comes amid a spate of Queensland shark attacks.
In October, two British backpackers were attacked while snorkelling at Hook Island in the Whitsunday Islands. One of the men lost a foot.
In March, a 25-year-old man suffered serious injuries to his thigh when a shark attacked him at Hardy Reef, also in the Whitsunday Islands chain.
It followed a fatal shark attack on Victorian doctor Daniel Christidis, 33, in November 2018, in Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island.
Yesterday's attack comes just months after shark nets and drumlines were redeployed following their removal from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in September last year.
The $5 million program was announced in February following a drop in tourism after the State Government was forced to remove 160 lethal drumlines.
The drumlines did not comply with catch-and-release requirements at the time.