A British man has died after being bitten by a sea snake while working on a fishing trawler in Australia.
The 23-year-old, thought to be a backpacker, was bitten while pulling up a net off Groote Eylandt off the coast of the country’s Northern Territory, 400 miles east of the city of Darwin.
It is thought to be the first recorded death from a sea snake bite in Australia.
Northern Territory Police said after the man was bitten on Thursday afternoon, a helicopter crew was summoned and the trawler made its way to Borroloola, inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria, where the victim was pronounced dead.
Craig Garraway, from St John Ambulance, told ABC News: “A trawler off Groote Eylandt had reported that one of their male crewmen had been bitten by a sea snake. The Groote Island health clinic and police responded to the trawler, but unfortunately the male passed away at some point yesterday afternoon.”
Inquiries are continuing and a post-mortem examination will be carried out.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who had died in the Northern Territory and are in contact with the Australian authorities.”
It is the second death of a British man while working on a fishing boat in the north of the country in five years.
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In November 2013, 20-year-old UK-born Ryan Donoghue died after he was electrocuted while using a power tool on a prawn trawler when a wave washed on deck.
All known species of sea snake are venomous and “produce some of the most dangerous venoms know in the animal kingdom,” the Marine Education Society of Australia said.
Found in tropical and sub-tropical waters through south-east Asia, the western Pacific and northern Australia, they grow to between 120cm and 150cm but can get as long as three metres, and are considered to be non-aggressive.