A FAMILY has paid tribute to a 23-year-old fisherman from Poole who died after being bitten by a sea snake in Australia.

Harry Evans died after he was bitten by the snake at around 9am local time on Thursday while working on a fishing trawler off Groote Eylandt island, 400 miles east of the capital Darwin in the Northern Territory.

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

Harry’s mother Sharon Evans, who lives in Poole, said they could not believe what had happened.

“It sounded like some sort of sick joke at first,” she said.

“I was just in disbelief. You feel so numb.

“We knew there were risks to being on the fishing boat, Harry was not stupid, he knew that as well. Our big fear was all the classic things really because he was swimming in the sea.”

Sharon added: “Harry was the happiest he had ever been as an adult on that boat.

“He knew he was coming home and he spoke to me on Tuesday. He knew we were all here and he was loved. He was so happy.

“Harry was had the kindest heart and he had a great interest in people.”

Police in Australia said Harry had been bitten by the snake while pulling the net onto the boat.

Emergency crews were called to the boat but were unable to save him.

Harry’s family said he died around 45 minutes after being bitten by the snake.

His twin brother George said: “When you think about being bitten by a snake you go back to all these documentaries that your body shuts down and it is horrendous, but it wasn’t.

“It was all very peaceful. He was in and out of conciousness. They did CPR, but he just went and never came back.”

Sharon added: “He had a shower, he went to the wheel house, he was saying he was fine. There wasn’t any seizures in agony or anything revolting.”

Harry, who went to Oakdale Middle School and Poole High School, travelled to Australia in August for a four-month trip on the fishing boat.

The trip came after years of operations on his leg to recover from a motorcycle crash in 2014.

George said Harry always had time for people, whether it was a friend or a complete stranger.

“Everyone had a story and he wanted to hear it,” George said.

“He was a funny guy, with a massive heart. We were extremely close all the way through. In the last few years I went to university, but the distance between us didn’t change things.

“He loved being by the sea, fishing or going for a walk. Anything by the sea and that it why he went out to work on the boats.”