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Man, 23, Killed In Horror Shark Attack Identified As 'Friendly, Genuine' Wildlife Worker

A young Queensland ranger fatally mauled by a shark in front of his work mates was thrilled to have landed his dream job, his school community says.

Past pupils of Brisbane's Iona College have expressed deep sadness over the loss of Zach Robba after an horrific attack on the southern Great Barrier Reef on Monday.

The 23-year-old had spent the day with other rangers doing maintenance work at North West Island, 75km northeast of Gladstone, when they decided to jump off their charter boat to cool off.

Zach Robba has been identified as the 23-year-old ranger killed in the shark attack. Image: Facebook

Zach's colleagues had returned to the boat but he was still in the water when the shark struck.

"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."

The ranger suffered extensive leg and arm injuries and survived an emergency flight to the Gladstone hospital but later died.

It's not clear what kind of shark was involved.

In a statement posted on social media on Tuesday, the Iona College Old Boys Association said the 2014 graduate died while undertaking research and maintenance work.

"This was Zach's dream job and he embraced all that it entailed," the association wrote.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has paid tribute to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service officer and offered her condolences to his grieving family.

Being a ranger was Zach's "dream job". Image: Facebook

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.

And 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.

An aerial view of North West Island. Image: Getty

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.