A 60-year-old man has died after being bitten by a three-metre-long great white shark while surfing near Kingscliff in northern NSW.
NSW Police confirmed the death after witnesses reported seeing the shark attack the man’s left leg while surfing at Salt Beach shortly after 10am on Sunday.
The man received a bite to the back of his thigh and was brought to the shore by other surfers who had fought off the shark, Surf Life Saving NSW said in a statement.
An SLS NSW spokesman told Guardian Australia the man succumbed to his wounds at about 10.40am.
Several board-riders tried to help the 60-year-old, with some of them fighting off the shark so he could be taken to shore, according to police.
“A shark biologist has assessed photographs and confirmed a white shark was responsible for the fatal attack,” the NSW Department of Primary Industries said in a statement.
The 60-year-old victim, from Tugun just over the Queensland border, received first aid on the shore but died on the beach.
The beach was cleared, and helicopters, jet skis and drones deployed to locate the shark. Officers onboard a police vessel, who had been granted permission under DPI laws to “destroy the shark”, were unable to kill it.
“Police and local rescue helicopter crews monitored the area for some hours; however, the shark left the vicinity about 1.15pm and has not been seen since. No police firearm was discharged. The operation has now concluded,” a police statement said.
SLS advise fatal shark bite at KINGSCLIFF, Tweed at 10:41 am on 7 Jun 2020. SLS has closed beach for 24 hours.
— SharkSmart (@NSWSharkSmart) June 7, 2020
Beaches between Kingscliff and Cabarita have been cleared of swimmers and surfers by officers from Marine Area Command and the local Surf Lifesavers. The beaches will remain closed for 24 hours.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Terence Savage said it was a “dreadful” situation for everyone involved.
“When you get a call to attend a shark attack, you never really know the full extent of the damage until you get on scene,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“They did everything they could to try and save his life, but despite their best efforts, were unable to do so.”
There is a shark listening station opposite the Kingscliff surf club but “no tagged sharks were detected on this station today” or at the Byron Bay listening station some 50 kilometres south, the DPI said on Sunday.
There have now been three fatal shark attacks in Australia in 2020.
Gary Johnson, 57, an experienced diver was killed by a shark near Cull Island in Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast in January.
A shark also killed 23-year-old Queensland ranger Zachary Robba in April off North West Island, some 50 kilometres east of Rockhampton.