Two shark attacks in 24 hours on Australia's Whitsunday Islands

BREAKING: Man attacked by shark off Whitsunday coast

Woman in serious condition after shark attack off Whitsunday Island

The child was also airlifted to hospital after being bitten on the leg while swimming in the same Whitsundays area in northeastern Australia.

UPDATE, 7PM: The RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter is refuelling at Proserpine after winching a shark attack victim in the Whitsundays tonight.

She remained in a critical but stable condition in Mackay Base Hospital and was being flown to Brisbane for further treatment on Thursday night by an RACQ LifeFlight air ambulance jet.

This is the second shark attack in the area in 24 hours.

The injury was very similar to the bite suffered by a 46 year old Tasmanian tourist the day before.

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The Airlie Beach boat skipper was working around the Whitsunday Islands when he heard a mayday call from Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island about 5.15pm.

Parts of the Great Barrier Reef are protected by shark drumlines, but a year ago a group of Sydney greenies started legal action to remove shark controls from the area.

A rescue helicopter that scrambled to pick her up was just 15 minutes away from the scene due to an earlier operation.

In a cruel twist, it was the same RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter pilot and air crewman that rescued both Mrs Barwick and the young girl.

"The patient was swimming when she was bitten, she was pulled back on to the (yacht) with significant injuries", the spokeswoman said. "There was quite a lot of blood around the boat", Mr McCauley said.

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However, in other areas of north Queensland the shark control program targets Tiger and Bull sharks.

RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Kevin Berry said the woman was lucky to be alive considering how much longer it would have taken for her to get help if they had not been in the area. "That's why these events are so shocking".

"By all accounts it was very serious and without the rescue helicopter she probably would have died, but those people did save her life by stopping the haemorrhaging".

Justine was on leave with her husband and friends enjoying time on their family yacht as part of an annual trip to the Whitsundays.

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