Great white kills surfer off NSW coast

A man has died after being attacked by a shark while surfing at Tuncurry Beach on the NSW coast.
A man has died after being attacked by a shark while surfing at Tuncurry Beach on the NSW coast.

A surfer fatally mauled by a 4.5-metre great white shark off Tuncurry Beach on the NSW mid-north coast was desperately warning friends of the danger when he was attacked.

It's the first confirmed fatal shark attack in Australian waters this year, though it's believed another man was killed by a shark off South Australia in January.

Emergency Services were called to the beach, just north of Forster, about 11.20am on Tuesday, after the man in his 50s was bitten while surfing.

Police say the man spotted the shark before it latched on, leaving him with horrific injuries to his upper thigh.

"When the attack occurred the man did actually see the shark and called out to try and warn others" Superintendent Christopher Schilt told reporters.

"Very heroically his friends were able to bring him back into shore after he had been attacked."

Despite the efforts of bystanders - which included an off-duty paramedic - the man died on the shore.

NSW Ambulance Inspector Joshua Smyth praised the man's friends who worked with paramedics for 40 minutes to revive him.

"They commenced CPR. They gave that patient the best chance that they could get at that time, but (we) were unable to save him."

Surf Lifesaving NSW has closed beaches from Blackhead Beach to One Mile Beach for at least 24 hours, and the DPI is deploying smart drumlines at Tuncurry Beach.

Shark scientists from the NSW Department of Primary Industry have since analysed photos of the bite and determined a white shark about 4.5m long is likely responsible for the attack.

Drones have been deployed in the area, as the DPI and police search for the shark responsible.

At least two sharks about three metres long were spotted in the area on Tuesday, as well as a roughly 4.5m great white captured by a drone videographer.

Local lifesaver Brian Wilcox said the attack was "pretty unprecedented".

"I can't recall ever having a shark attack in this area," he told ABC TV.

The DPI has advised water users and beach goers to follow the NSW SharkSmart Twitter feed or download the SharkSmart app for the latest information on shark movements and sightings.

Eight people were killed in shark attacks in Australian waters last year, according to the Taronga Conservation Society which records shark fatalities.

In January, a Victorian man went missing in waters off Port MacDonnell in South Australia, and his torn wetsuit was later found, but his case was not recorded as an official shark fatality.

Australian Associated Press