A trip to the Whitsunday Islands turned fatal for Daniel Christidis, who was tragically mauled to death by a shark while paddleboarding and swimming at Cid Harbour on Monday evening.
The 33-year-old doctor who worked at Melbourne’s Austin Health as an urologist has been remembered for his “heart of gold”.
WHO WAS DR DANIEL CHRISTIDIS
A vale was published by BJU Inter national; the leading monthly urology journal where Dr Christidis contributed to in many ways (blogs, articles, creating projects), written by associate editor and colleague A/Prof Nathan Lawrentschuk MB BS PhD FRACS.
“Daniel was a doctor who trained through the Austin Hospital after graduating where his passion for urology was ignited. He headed down the surgical pathway completing a Diploma of Surgical Anatomy. This was after studying medicine at Deakin University in Victoria as a postgraduate and after completing prior undergraduate studies. He became an enthusiastic and accomplished researcher culminating in international presentations and recognition well beyond his years. Some highlights included being the youngest elected member of the SIU young innovators committee and his instrumental involvement in setting up the YURO (Young Urology Researchers Organisation) which has seen urology research thrive in this region and globally. His journey in urology although only beginning was off to a flying start- all due to his diligence. The prizes and awards were only just beginning.
Daniel was a remarkable person- a unique individual who touched so many with his charm, style and intellect. He will be missed by so many – the world has been robbed of one of its true shining stars that was only beginning to rise,” Prof Lawrentschuk wrote praising the late Dr Christidis for the many hats he wore, those of a doctor, researcher, young urologist, mentor, international contributor and organiser to name a few.
“Dan rarely stepped aside from a challenge and was always willing to take part in adventures and travels in his personal life. Ironically his death is linked to the things he loved. He was inclusive, engaging and managed to make anyone in contact with him feel that they, and not he, was the centre of the universe. He was such a fun person to be around- laughing, smiling and filling up a room with his genuine love of life.
How do we make sense of such a tragic and unexpected event? The impact circles from those friends and bystanders who desperately tried to save him, his immediate and extended family, his friends, to the numerous colleagues and extended urology and research family he had created over the past years.
At age 33 years, Dan had so much left to give we can only cherish what was shared with us all and celebrate a person who engaged rather than watched- who loved life to the fullest- something to which we can all aspire. Our thoughts are with his parents, brother and sister who are undoubtedly proud of Dan- an incredible individual who will never be forgotten.”
Even the Victorian State Health Minister Jill Henessy MP was moved to comment on Twitter highlighting what a loss his tragic death is.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Dr Daniel Christidis who was a research fellow with Austin Health,” said a spokeswoman from the hospital.
“Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.” She added that staff were being offered counselling to deal with the sudden loss of their colleague.
THE CHRONICLE OF THE ATTACK
Attacked by an unknown species of shark, the incident with Dr Christidis is the third serious attack in the area in two months. In September both Justine Barwick from Tasmania and Hannah Papps from Melbourne were bitten on separate occasions at Cid Harbour.
Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue crewman Ben McCauley, 31, who tried to save Dr Christidis said he has been deeply affected by the man’s death.
McCauley attended the scene of all three attacks but until Monday’s incident he was coping with the predicament as the first two victims survived.
“It’s tough,” he told 7.30. “If you came in to work the next day and you pretended like it didn’t affect you, you’re just lying to yourself. One hundred per cent it affected me.
“It’s just something that will sit in the back of your mind. You went there, you did your best, it wasn’t enough.”
The injuries from the attack were so bad that even though Dr Christidis’ co-passengers has administered CPR and the wounds had been bandaged the outcome seemed far from positive.
“He was on a yacht with a group of 10 friends. We believe they’re all in the medical profession,” Mr McCauley continued.
“It’s unlucky getting bitten by a shark, but you’re very lucky to have been bitten by a shark and have doctors and nurses on the next boat, or your friends all around you who are all medical professionals. You couldn’t ask for any better care than that. Even though the hospital is on its way, you’re getting A1 care straight up.”
“We knew he wasn’t in a great way,” Mr McCauley said. “He would have known he is not in a great way, but he knew he was in good hands. He wanted the help, you could see he wanted the help.”
All you can do is just reassure him. I was just stroking his forehead and all you can do is do what you’re trained to do, and just try to let them know everything is going to be fine.”
WHITSUNDAYS SHARK POPULATION OUT OF CONTROL
At the same time Rob Katter MP of Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) in North Queensland commented that “sharks are no different from pigs, kangaroos and wild horses” and joined the LNP’s call for a shark cull, despite shark researchers and Queensland Government ruling out the placement of permanent drum lines in the Whitsundays.
Mr McCauley did not want to comment on whether drum lines should be reinstalled at Cid Harbour, however, he did stress that beach-goers should bear in mind that there will always be sharks in the ocean.
“You’re never going to stop a natural predator in its own area. It’s their water,” he concluded.
But according to Blake Chapman, a marine biologist, before the three shark attacks, such incidents were unheard of in the area. He says more research needs to be conducted to find out why this is now happening.
“We need to be looking at the baitfish movement, we need to be looking at the water conditions … any other factors that might be happening in that area that is obviously changing shark activity,” said Dr Chapman.
“Because two months ago this wasn’t an issue. It was pretty much unheard of in that area, so something has changed and that’s what we need to be figuring out.” In the meantime, signs will be put up this weekend warning people to abstain from swim in the harbour under any circumstances.
Meanwhile, the Whitsunday Mayor and Queensland’s ministers tor tourism and fisheries have called the meeting to come up with a strategy to prevent future attacks.
Bruce Batch, one of Queensland’s last remaining commercial shark fishermen who has worked for the same fishery for almost 48 years said that environmental campaigns and a halving in commercial catch numbers by a former federal Labor government had driven a spike in the state’s shark population that have had a good 10-15 years to grow.
“What surprises me is the fact that there isn’t more [attacks] — when you actually talk to any commercial fishermen, these animals are now getting larger and larger by the year and they’re educated to follow boats,” he said.
“They know if they follow a boat they’re going to get a feed. What’s happened is the trawler industry’s taken a massive downturn, but those sharks didn’t go away — they just got bigger and fatter.”