An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. File picture: Channel 9 via AP

Canberra - A man has been attacked by a shark at Cid Harbour off Australia's north-eastern coast, local emergency services said late Monday.

Queensland Ambulance Service said the man, believed to be in his 40s, suffered critical injuries to his leg and arms, but that his exact condition is not known.

The ambulance services said the attack occurred while the man was swimming off a private boat in Cid Harbour on Monday evening.

Emergency crews have airlifted the man to a local hospital after paramedics treated the man on his boat.

The attack occurred close to the area where two local tourists had been mauled in separate attacks within 24 hours in September, close to the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

In those attacks, a 12-year-old girl and a 46-year-old woman were bitten by sharks one day apart in the Cid Harbour region off the Whitsunday Islands. Both survived the life-threatening attacks.

The attacks led to the beach area being closed off as well as a shark bait operation, in which six sharks were hooked and killed within a week.

In Australia, sharks are protected species.

Last month, a fisherman was also bitten on the shoulder by a large shark as he attempted to haul it onto his boat near the Great Barrier Reef.

The Whitsunday Islands region around Cid Harbour is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia, with more than 750,000 local and international visitors a year.

dpa