First picture of British backpacker, 23, killed by sea snake in Australia as heartbroken friends pay tribute

Harry Evans, 23, is the first person to be killed by the reptile in Australia after he was bitten while pulling up a net off Groote Eylandt, 400 miles east of Darwin.

Tributes have since poured in for the young man, originally of Poole, Dorset, who had worked at local restaurant Le Bateau before travelling abroad to work on the fishing trawler.

Rosie Norian, 53, general manager at Le Bateau, said they had heard the news of Harry's death from various friends over the last two days.

She said: "Harry was just a lovely guy, he was always smiling and always helping. He was a pleasure to work with.

"He was tall and handsome and had a beard."

She said he had spoken about moving to Australia, adding: "When I heard what happened to him it was a big, big shock. It is so sad.

"A customer came in on Friday he just broke down in tears. When I spoke to him he said he was a friend of Harry’s and that he couldn’t believe what had happened to him."

Others took to social media to pay tribute to Harry, with friend Sam Heath writing on Facebook: "Luv you bro, forever and always be one of my best mates"

Pal George Jackson-Carter added: "RIP Harry Evans, you were one of the most kind hearted and funniest people I’ve ever met.

"Always made everyone laugh and smile, my thoughts go out to George and their family for this tragic loss to them and everyone that knew him."

A third friend added: "Such a massive legend! I just cannot believe this!"

Harry's friends said the young man had a "heart of gold" – with many saying he was a "true legend".

The young man had been on board the trawler when he was bitten, with a rescue helicopter rushing to help.

Australia’s sea snakes

But most species are considered to be non-aggressive, says the Marine Education Society of Australasia.

Adult sea snakes grow to between 120-150cm, with the largest species growing to three metres.

They feed on fish, especially eels.

The reptiles have fine, sharp teeth to grip their prey before swallowing it whole.

Sea snakes are active both day and night and often bask in the sunlight on the water’s surface in the morning and late afternoon.

They usually remain underwater for 20-30 minutes.

Queensland’s Department of Education says snakes are not usually aggressive and don’t seek confrontation with people, but may retaliate if provoked.

“The important thing to remember is to never attempt to catch or kill a snake,” it advises.

Snake bites in Australia “can be potentially fatal so immediate medical assistance should be sought”.

Craig Garraway, from St John Ambulance, told ABC News: “A trawler off Groote Eylandt had reported that one of their male crewmen had been bitten by a sea snake.

“The Groote Island health clinic and police responded to the trawler, but unfortunately the male passed away at some point (Thursday) afternoon.”

Police inquiries are continuing and a post-mortem will be carried out.

The UK Foreign Office said: "We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in the Northern Territory and are in contact with the Australian authorities."

Marine Education Society of Australasia said that no deaths have previously been recorded from sea snake bites in Australian waters.

However, it is the second death of a British man while working on a fishing boat in the north of the country in five years, reports the Press Association.

In November 2013 a 20-year-old UK-born man died while working on a prawn trawler.

Ryan Donoghue was electrocuted while using a power tool, when a wave washed on deck as it returned to Cairns.

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