British fisherman killed by sea snake off Australian coast

The 23-year-old British backpacker was working on a fishing trawler off the Northern Territory coast at Groote Eylandt. Source Getty file

The snake bit him while he was pulling up a net, Northern Territory police told CNN. The ship was then at 70 nautical miles (130 kilometers) from the island Rat island.

It is thought to be the first recorded death from a sea snake bite in Australia.

Charles Darwin University honorary fellow Dr Michael Guinea previously said sea snakes are "equally poisonous if not more poisonous as things such as our tiger snakes and western brown (snakes)".

Sea snakes are mostly found in tropical waters from south-east Asia to northern Australia.

All known species of sea snake are venomous and "produce some of the most risky venoms known in the animal kingdom", the Marine Education Society of Australia said. There are instances of divers dying within thirty minutes of being bitten'.

Emergency crews were called to the boat, near the island of Groote Eylandt, but were unable to save the man.

A rescue helicopter with a medical team was sent from the city of Darwin.

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"Most sea snake bites occur on trawlers when the snakes are sometimes hauled in with the catch", the MESA says on its website.

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, police added.

Police are investigating and a post-mortem examination will be carried out.

The British High Commission has been informed of the man's death, which is not the only recent incident of a British man dying on an Australian fishing boat.

Donoghue was born in Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex, and his family moved to Australia when he was six years old.

NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh found his death was needless and a tragic waste of young life.

'It would have been prevented if there was even a modicum of compliance with the law.

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