Barracuda bite victim speaks out after his weekend ordeal

LUCKY FELLA: Ricky Durand pictured at Rockhampton Hospital is lucky to be alive after being attacked by a 9ft barracuda while he was out spear fishing in Keppel Bay on the weekend.
LUCKY FELLA: Ricky Durand pictured at Rockhampton Hospital is lucky to be alive after being attacked by a 9ft barracuda while he was out spear fishing in Keppel Bay on the weekend. Chris Ison Rokcbarracuda

RICKY Durand is a bit hazy about what happened after he was suddenly attacked by a 2.75 metre barracuda in the water off Humpy Island.

But what has stuck in his mind is the memory of trying to get back to his boat, out of the water and away from the fish which bit a chunk out of his arm.

"All I could really think about was getting back to the boat so I didn't get bitten again - instinct kicked in about getting to safety, I don't really remember thinking about the pain or anything else," Ricky said from his Yeppoon home yesterday .

On Monday morning, 23-year-old Ricky was in the water surrounding Humpy Island spear fishing with mates Mitch O'Maley and Mitch Nash. While he has been spear fishing for about a year, it was his first visit to the Keppel Bay island.

"We had gone out on the boat for a dive - we waited for the rain to clear and then jumped in the water. One of my dive buddies speared it (the barracuda) and then I went to put a second shot in it, and the fish turned around in a blink of an eye and bit me," Ricky said.

Once Ricky and his friends had made it back to the boat, Mitch O'Maley used a tourniquet to try and stop the extensive arterial bleeding, while Mitch Nash drove the boat back to Rosslyn Bay Marina.

Ricky was then transported to Rockhampton Hospital and underwent a three hour surgery in the morning, where doctors sewed his tendons together.

"I first felt pain when they took the tourniquet off - it felt like a blunt butter knife was being used to cut off my arm...I went back into surgery in the afternoon, and had stitches and staples put in and Dr Tamaris Hoffman stretched the skin over so I somehow got out of having a skin graft done," Ricky explained.

The bricklayer has a tattoo of an all seeing eye where the fish bit him, but he has no idea of the damage done to his tattoo as his arm is bandaged up.

"I have to go back in on Thursday and then Friday week where hopefully they will take the stitches out and assess the damage...I will be off work for three to six months," he said.

While still shocked at what happened, Ricky said it was a freak accident, and it had not put him off going back in the water.


The barracuda is a vicious deep-water hunter with lightning speed and incredible accuracy

Its teeth of the great barracuda are sharp and can easily lacerate a human limb. Many attacks on humans have been caused by barracudas, usually ending in the loss of an arm or a leg. Barracudas are also attracted by shiny objects, therefore it is advised that when entering barracuda infested waters, one should take off any jewellery or any other garment or piece that attracts and reflects light

Average Length: Up to 1.8m; Average Weight: Up to 47kg; Diet: Almost any fish; Lifespan: 10 to15 years


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