A RARE cookie cutter shark is causing havoc in Alma Bay on Magnetic Island, seriously injuring a young boy and terrorising other swimmers.
Jack Tolley, 7, lost a chunk of flesh, 73mm in diameter, from his calf after being bitten by the usually deep-sea dwelling creature.
Jack's father David Tolley said the painful injury was a massive shock to the northeast Victorian family, including Jack's mum Amy and older brother Matthew, who were also in the water when the attack happened last Friday.
"Medically recorded, he's only the second in Australia to be bitten and it's a pretty nasty bite," Mr Tolley said.
"We don't want this to happen to anyone else."
Unconfirmed reports of other recent bites in Alma Bay include a backpacker and a man in his 60s who was nipped trying to kick the shark away.
Advanced care paramedic Wayne Harper treated Jack's injury after being called to a suspected fish bite.
"For a seven-year-old, he was very brave," he said.
Mr Harper said no one on the island could immediately identify the source of the bite and he had not seen anything like it.
"I could see down to the fatty tissue, almost down to the bone," he said.
Jack underwent surgery at Townsville Hospital to close the wound, spent three days in hospital and narrowly avoided requiring a skin graft.
Jack has been busily researching the shark species since the attack.
"They bite you, then flip upside down so they cut through the flesh, then they have a little vacuum to suck the chunk out," he said.
The Australian Museum website says the shark grows up to 50cm long.
Older brother Matthew, 9, said the incident happened just before a family snorkelling outing.
"The fish came along and Dad said, 'This is a friendly fish', and then it nudged Dad's leg pretty hard and he thought, 'No, this isn't a friendly fish'," he said.
"It bit Jack and Dad kicked it out of the water.
"When I saw the bite I was screaming for Mum to get out of the water. She's lucky she didn't get bitten as well."
Surf Life Saving Queensland Townsville lifeguard supervisor Russell Blanchard said lifeguards had not seen the species of shark in the area.
"Hopefully if people have concerns or if they do see anything else in the water, they will tell a lifeguard," he said.
"We're hoping it's just one of those extreme cases."
The Tolley family said that while the experience was a scare, it would not deter them from returning to North Queensland again.
"We've met lots of people, it's a wonderful island and we'll be back so Jack can go snorkelling one day," Mr Tolley said.
Townsville City Council declined to comment on the incident.
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