An Australian has been killed in a shark attack off Queensland’s Gold Coast, marking the first fatal attack on the tourist town’s beaches in more than 60 years.
Nick Slater, 46, was at Greenmount Beach in Coolangatta – a well-known surf spot – when a shark injured his leg on Tuesday.
Surfers nearby found him floating in shallow water next to his board.
He was taken to shore and received first aid, but died at the scene.
Authorities on Wednesday closed an 18 km (11 mile) section of beach to conduct helicopter and jet ski searches for the shark – believed to be a 3m great white.
“Once we know that the shark is not nearby or that we have followed it, the beach will be reopened,” said city mayor Tom Tate.
He said it was the first shark death on a Gold Coast beach since 1958, adding that authorities were investigating the event.
Area protected by nets and hooks
Mr Slater, a local real estate agent, was surfing next to Snapper Rocks Point, which hosted a World Surf League competition in March.
A witness told the Courier Mail newspaper that Mr Slater was bitten on the upper leg and that ‘everything was taken’.
A surfer who provided assistance, Jade Parker, said there was a large bite mark on Mr Slater’s board.
“It was probably about the same circumference as a basketball… and there was still a tooth lodged in the fiberglass that I had to remove,” 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, surf breaks and inland waterways.
Its beaches have been protected by shark nets and drum lines – baited hooks suspended underwater – since the 1960s, and shark attacks are rare.
Officials said it was too early to say whether additional shark protection measures would be needed.
The Gold Coast was the victim of a fatal shark attack in 2003, but this incident occurred inland in vast channels connected to the sea.
Mr Slater’s death is the sixth fatal shark attack in Australia this year, with most occurring along the country’s east coast.
In June, two surfers were fatally attacked in separate incidents north of northern New South Wales.
- Shark attacks