Pictured: Wildlife ranger, 23, who was killed in a shark attack while swimming with friends off the Great Barrier Reef
- Zachary Robba, 23, died on Monday after being horrifically mauled by a shark
- His former school said being a wildlife ranger on the reef was his ‘dream job’
- He had been working with other rangers when he went for a swim to cool off
- The incident took place off North West Island, 75km north of Gladstone
A wildlife ranger who was fatally mauled by a shark off the Great Barrier Reef has been named as 23-year-old Zachary Robba.
He had been enjoying working at his ‘dream job’ on the southern Barrier Reef with a group of rangers when he was attacked on Monday afternoon.
His former school, Iona College in Brisbane, paid tribute to Mr Robba, saying he had been loving his ‘dream job and embracing all that it entailed’.
The experienced swimmer died in hospital on Monday night a few hours after he was bitten off North West Island, 75km northeast of Gladstone in Queensland.
He suffered severe injuries to leg, hand and elbow during the attack.
Zachary Robba (pictured) was described as a ‘down-to-earth legend’ by friends, after he died aged 23
A family friend told Daily Mail Australia that Zachary was ‘dedicated’ to his work and described his mate as a ‘down-to-earth legend’.
‘Zac was someone who was loved by all, a dedicated parks and wildlife officer who embraced everything that came at him,’ he said.
‘Zac was a easy going, down-to-earth legend of a bloke.
‘Every time we saw him he brought laughter and a sense of mateship to a crowd. He has left a legacy in everybody’s hearts who knew him. May he rest in peace.’
His school paid tribute to its former student, saying they had a ‘Zach shaped hole in their heart’.
Zachary Robba (pictured) died on Monday after being mauled by a shark while swimming off North West Island
‘At this difficult time, we keep all Ionians in our prayers who are affected by this very sad loss,’ a statement read.
‘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.’
Police say the victim and other rangers decided to go for a swim off the back of their boat, after spending the day doing maintenance work on the island.
The victim’s colleagues were ahead of him and had already reached the vessel when the sharked struck.
Mr Robba (pictured with a colleague at sea) was passionate about his job as a wildlife ranger
‘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.’
It’s not clear what kind of shark was involved.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has paid tribute to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service officer, sending condolences to his grieving family.
‘A lot of his work colleagues, I understand, were very upset today,’ she told reporters.
Mr Robba suffered extensive injuries to his leg and arm, and despite surviving an emergency flight he later died in Gladstone Hospital.
The attack took place near North West Island (pictured) which is in the Capricornia Cays National Park in the Great Barrier Reef
Monday’s attack was the third at North West Island in just over three months.
In 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.
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.
A swimmer was mauled by a monster shark off the Great Barrier Reef on Monday afternoon (stock image)
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