Baby boomers' 'bucket lists' blamed in reef deaths

Snorkelling offers access to the amazing views underwater. PHOTO: TOURISM AND EVENTS QUEENSLAND
Snorkelling in Queensland. Photo: Supplied

Foreign baby boomers are "kicking the bucket" by trying to tick off their bucket list, according to a Great Barrier Reef tourism boss.

Col McKenzie has made the observation as Queensland's dive industry prepares to meet with the state government following the fourth death in far north waters in less than a month.

A 75-year-old Japanese woman was pulled unconscious from the water at Moore Reef, about 40km from Cairns on Tuesday afternoon.

It followed the deaths of two French tourists aged in their 70s, who were snorkelling, and a British scuba diver (61) on the reef in November.

The latest fatality brings the total number of north Queensland diving deaths this year to 10, which Mr McKenzie, the executive director of Marine Park Tourism Operators, said was double the average.

"I think we need to have a really close look at all the individual incidents and also look at it holistically and see if there's anything we can do," he said

Mr McKenzie said the spike could be attributed to more baby boomers from overseas travelling to the Great Barrier Reef, making up 40% of the current market.

"They're out there now doing what we'd term their bucket list-type activities they want to do before they die," he told AAP.

"Well I'd appreciate them finishing their bucket list before they kick the bucket."

Mr McKenzie said the increase in numbers did not fully account for the rise in deaths, and they were looking forward to meeting with Workplace Health and Safety early next year to figure out what can be done.

He said in four of the five most recent cases the rescue helicopter was not available, which was a factor that had to be looked at.

"We can't keep them alive for the two to three hours it takes to take them back in by boat. We've got to get a helicopter. And so I think there's a role for the government to play in this as well."

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