A picturesque snorkelling trip in North Queensland, Australia, turned into chaos when a man was attacked by a crocodile. Miraculously, he survived by prying the reptile’s jaws off of his own head.
The Queensland Government Hospital and Health Service released a statement from Marcus McGowan, who was attacked by a saltwater crocodile 40 kilometres off the coast of Cape York on Saturday.
McGowan, a Gold Coast resident, said he was snorkelling with his wife and a group of friends when he was attacked. While viewing coral and fish in the water, a crocodile approached McGowan from behind and bit his head. Initially, McGowan thought he’d been bitten by a shark.
Though he did not get a good view of the reptile, McGowan said the attacker was likely a juvenile crocodile about two to three metres long.
“I was able to lever its jaws open just far enough to get my head out,” McGowan wrote.
When the crocodile surged for a second attack, McGowan said he pushed the animal away with his right hand, which was subsequently bitten.
Again, McGowan managed to free himself from the crocodile’s jaws and swim back to the boat. He sustained scalp lacerations and puncture wounds on his head and hand as a result of the attack.
On the boat, McGowan’s friend, a firefighter, administered first aid and antibiotic shots to prevent any infection while en route to Haggerstone Island, about 45 minutes away. Once there, McGowan was airlifted to hospital for treatment.
“I live on the Gold Coast and am a keen surfer and diver, and understand that when you enter the marine environment, you are entering territory that belongs to potentially dangerous animals, such as sharks and crocodiles,” McGowan wrote. “I was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”
The Queensland Department of Environment is currently investigating the incident.
“It is important that crocodile sightings and crocodile incidents are reported in a timely manner,” the department said in a statement to Australian broadcaster ABC News. “Crocodiles in the open ocean can be difficult to locate as the animals often travel tens of kilometres per day.”
There have been at least 44 crocodile attacks on humans in Queensland since 1985. McGowan’s crocodile encounter is the fifth incident in the region since April of this year.