STAFF on Lady Elliot Island have been left reeling following the sudden death of one of their regular visitors to the island, who has been described as an "avid snorkeller".
The 65-year-old Sunshine Coast woman had been staying at the Eco Resort on the island with her sister-in-law for a couple of days when tragedy struck.
Island general manager John Johansen said the woman had been snorkelling with a group of four about 10.30am on Wednesday.
"She was with the group, seeing all the mantas she had wanted to see," he said.
The next minute, Mr Johansen said, the group noticed the woman had moved away from the group.
"So one swimmer went over to her and her eyes had started to glaze over, and were rolling back, so they pulled her into shore," he said.
"Once they got her to shore, our first aid team worked on her until the rescue chopper came.
"They had the defibrillator on her and they handed her over to the rescue chopper."
But it was too late to save the woman - she was quickly pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Johansen said the woman's relative was taking the shock incident "surprisingly well".
"They really are upset but it is what it is, unfortunately," he said.
Mr Johansen, who is not based on the island, said he flew across to Lady Elliot shortly after the incident to provide support to his staff members.
"They are handling it well - it's a difficult time for staff," he said.
The death comes more than a year after a 69-year-old Canadian tourist died while snorkelling with his wife at the island, in April last year.
The pair had just finished an introductory snorkelling class at their hotel pool half an hour earlier and had decided to take a snorkel in the ocean.
"He had a heart attack in the water," Mr Johansen said.
"We don't know what the cause of (Wednesday's tragedy) was.
"When this happens we try to be as supportive as possible to all involved as much as we can."
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