An Australian man has been killed during a shark attack off Queensland’s Gold Coast, marking the primary fatal attack at the tourist city’s beaches in over 60 years.
Nick Slater, aged 46, was at Greenmount Beach at Coolangatta which is, a well-known surf spot when a shark mauled his leg on Tuesday.
Nearby surfers found him floating in shallow water with his board floating next to him.
He was rushed to shore and given care but died at the scene.
Authorities closed an 18km (11-mile) section of beaches on Wednesday to conduct helicopter and jetski searches for the shark – reported to be a 3m great white.
“Once we all know that the shark isn’t within the vicinity or we’ve tracked it, then the beach is going to be reopened,” said the city’s mayor Tom Tate.
He said it had been the primary shark death at a Gold Coast beach since 1958, adding authorities were investigating the event.
The area protected by nets and hooks
Mr Slater, an area land agent, had been surfing next to Snapper Rocks’ point, which hosted a World Surf League competition in March.
One witness told the Courier Mail newspaper Mr Slater had been bitten across the upper leg, and “it was just about all taken”.
A surfer who provided help, Jade Parker, said there was an outsized bite mark on Mr Slater’s board.
“It was probably about an equivalent circumference as a basketball… and there was a tooth still lodged within the fiberglass which I had to get rid of,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most famous tourist destinations, popular for its long white-sand beaches, surfing breaks, and inland waterways.
Its beaches are protected by shark nets and drumlines – baited hooks suspended underwater – since the 1960s, and shark attacks are rare.
Officials said it had been too early to mention whether additional shark protection measures would be needed.
The Gold Coast saw a fatal shark attack in 2003, but that incident occurred inland in sprawling canals connected to the ocean.
Mr Slater’s death is that the sixth fatal attack by a shark in Australia this year, with most occurring along the country’s East Coast.
In June, two surfers were fatally attacked in separate incidents off nearby northern New South Wales.