A LENNOX Head woman has been attacked by a 3m shark while working for professional treasure hunters in Tonga.
Kylie Maguire has worked on Ice for four months, a boat owned by wreck-hunting company Tonga Blue. This year the company has been working with the Tongan Government to uncover the area's "hidden maritime past".
The 29-year-old is an experienced diver, surfer, photographer and conservationist.
Kylie's father, Mike Maguire, yesterday told The Northern Star he was told on Monday afternoon his daughter had been attacked by a shark while swimming with another woman, Kim Hands.
"Kylie told me that she didn't see the shark, but it hit hard on her thighs and buttocks," he said.
"She was fighting it ... she doesn't really remember what happened next but then she was back in the kayak."
Doctors who treated Kylie in Tonga estimated the length of the shark to be 3m, with teeth about 25mm across and a 40-45cm bite circumference,
It was possibly a bull shark.
Mr Maguire and his wife, Denise, were originally told that Kylie would recover well in the Tongan hospital.
But yesterday they were told her wounds were infected and skin grafts might be required.
Emergency arrangements were being made last night to transfer her to a Sydney hospital.
"There's a large part of the flesh wound that's just not healing and the captain of the boat told us that if it was his daughter he'd be getting her back to Australia," Mr Maguire said.
"So we're trying to get her on the first flight we can.
"We've been talking to Kylie and she seems pretty down. I think she has realised that this big adventure is all coming to an end.
"She's a tough bugger.
"I don't know how many lives this girl has got. Once she had to be airlifted by the Italian navy during gale-force winds and she's also been caught out on boats during cyclones.
"Kylie's actually pretty lucky - not many people survive a shark attack."
Ice's captain Don McIntyre posted on his blog, bluetreasure .me, that Kylie and Kim had set off in an inflatable kayak from the boat anchored at Treasure Island Resort in Vava'u about 4pm on the day of the shark attack.
Shortly afterwards the captain went ashore for a meeting and turned off his radio.
But after hearing faint cries for help, he turned it back on and heard Kylie calmly saying she had been bitten by a shark.
She was still conscious and talking, but not moving her legs.
"I did not know what to expect, but felt it must be a non-life threatening injury, possibly small, because of Kylie's responses," he blogged.
"But at my first sight of the wound it appeared quite the reverse.
"There was major trauma to the area around her buttocks and inner thighs."
Despite her ordeal, both the ship's captain and Kylie's father stressed that Kylie loves sharks.