UPDATE: The battle to save a sunken excavator that became stuck in sand near Gatakers Boat ramp has been lost, with the tide inundating the machine before it could be rescued.

A council contractor had been working to remove sand from beside the problematic boat ramp and came to grief when a soft spot collapsed beneath him.

Crews tried frantically for the hour that followed to free the heavy machine but their efforts were in vain.

Salvage efforts are expected to continue on Wednesday.

EARLIER: An urgent rescue mission is under way to pull an excavator out of the mud on the beach at Gatakers Bay before the tide comes in.

Another excavator has been brought in to try to pull the bogged machine out.

Fraser Coast councillor Trevor McDonald said the machine, owned by a contactor, was carrying out routine sand removal work on the beach.

The excavator has sunken in a soft spot in the sand.

Crews have used a bobcat to dig around the machine to free some of the sand from around the excavator and build up a barrier to the seawater.

A pump is being used to remove water from around the machine.