An Australian diver was lucky to survive a shark attack off the coast of Queensland on Saturday after he was forced to wait eight hours to receive treatment. The diver, who was said by the Cairns Post to be experienced, was eventually admitted to Cairns Hospital on Sunday afternoon.

The 55-year-old was attacked near the Great Barrier Reef by a large Bull shark – an aggressive breed, according to experts – at around 12:40pm local time on Saturday. The bull shark, apparently four metres long, repeatedly bit the diver causing "serious lacerations" to his left arm and abdomen, the newspaper said.

The diver, who was 15m underwater at the time of the attack, was able to swim to back to his charter boat, where he received first aid to stem the blood loss.

It was several hours before the boat made it to the nearest medical centre on Murray Island between Australia and Papua New Guinea, where the man resides.

Hampered by torrential rain, it took a further three hours for a helicopter to reach Murray Island and take the man to Thursday Island where he received hospital treatment before eventually being admitted to Cairns Hospital.

Neil Noble of the Queensland Ambulance Service said the man was "unlucky, but very lucky".

He told the Cairns Post: "Unfortunately due to the remoteness, had the shark nicked a major artery, it could have been a fatal incident."

Those sentiments were echoed by Paramedic David Cameron, who told the Sydney Morning Herald: "The bull shark has come up from behind and has unfortunately bitten the patient on the arm several times and bitten him on the stomach," Cameron said. "He's very lucky to walk away."

Although great white and tiger sharks are said to be the most dangerous species of shark, according to The Sun, bull sharks are often thought of by experts as the most dangerous as they tend to dwell in shallow coastal waters and are easily provoked.

It is also thought that the number of attacks by bulls sharks is under-represented in cited statistics as they are easily misidentified.

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Bull sharks are said to be easily provoked. Reuters