August 30, 2011 – 4:49PM
A man’s body was mauled by tiger sharks in waters avoided by locals because the predators had been circling since a whale carcass was discovered in the area a few weeks ago.
A crocodile had also taken up residence since Cyclone Yasi hit Far North Queensland in February.
A 48-year-old builder from Victoria died after he tried to swim out to retrieve a boat that had drifted away from a beach on picturesque Fantome Island about 65km northeast of Townsville.
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Townsville District Inspector Ian Haughton said the man’s body had been mauled by tiger sharks.
But it was not possible to tell if the wounds were inflicted before or after his death.
It has emerged that locals had been staying out of the waters because tiger sharks had been circling the islands since a whale carcass was found floating nearby a few weeks ago.
There was also a crocodile in the waters, according to Kristyn Morgan from Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council.
“The tiger sharks have been here since the whale was in the water and the sharks were eating it, they have been hanging around,” she said.
“Locals wouldn’t swim in there, there’s also been a croc about since the cyclone.
“But he wasn’t a local so he didn’t know.”
Inspector Haughton said the Victorian man was a builder contracted to complete renovations at nearby Orpheus Island.
On Sunday, he set off in a boat with friends to explore the area and stopped off on Fantome Island.
The three walked up the beach to take a look around when the boat started to drift away from the beach about 7pm.
The man swan off to retrieve the boat and never returned.
Police were alerted and launched a search, involving helicopters, planes and boats.
The search continued yesterday morning with nine boats involved in a gird search.
The man’s body was found about three nautical miles from Fantome Island about 9.45am.
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