A tourist in his sixties died on Wednesday (1 February) while snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef. The man is the fifth tourist to die within three months while snorkelling at Australia's popular tourist attraction.

Authorities are investigating the death of the unidentified tourist who was on a snorkelling tour at Moore Reef, about 40km out from Cairns in North Queensland. Some reports have said he died of a heart attack.

The man, who had been on a day trip to the popular reef site with Reef Magic Cruises, was said to be 5m away from the reef pontoon when the incident occurred around 12.30pm AEST (2.30am GMT). The cruise company has declined to comment on the incident.

Some local reports have said the tourist was from the UK, but local police have declined to comment on his nationality.

A rescue helicopter sent to retrieve the man was then diverted to to help a 43-year-old woman who almost drowned while snorkelling. She was transported to Cairns Hospital in a critical condition, where she is struggling for life.

Earlier in December, a Japanese woman lost her life while snorkelling on the reef. In November, two French tourists, both in their seventies, and a British scuba diver, 60, died during the recreational activity.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations, which extends 2,000km (1,200 miles) along the country's northeast coast and is the world's largest living ecosystem. Because of its unmatched beauty, it attracts over two million visitors per year and reportedly generates more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) in revenue through tourism.

Great Barrier Reef
A man died while snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef which is Australia’s popular tourist attraction ~ Image for representation only REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo