SYDNEY – A man was killed Tuesday in an apparent shark attack at the popular tourist destination of Byron Bay on Australia's east coast despite a beachgoer's rescue attempt, police said.
The beachgoer swam 50-65 feet from the shore of Clarkes Beach to retrieve the man, who had sustained severe wounds to his right leg, Police Inspector Bobbie Cullen said.
The victim, a local man in his 50s, received medical treatment on the beach but did not survive, Cullen said.
"A gentleman who was on the beach went out and located the gentleman and pulled him in," Cullen told reporters. "Absolutely it is (an extraordinary act of bravery) and we can only thank him for his efforts."
The victim's leg wounds were being examined to verify that he was attacked by a shark and to identify the size and species.
Witnesses said the shark was still in the area as the victim was dragged in, Sky News reported.
Cullen said the crew of a rescue helicopter spotted what appeared to be a great white shark in the area after the suspected attack, but had lost sight of it. She said all Byron Bay beaches would be closed for 24 hours due to the potential danger.
Byron Bay is a renowned surfing location near Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland, about 500 miles north of Sydney.
The death is the first blamed on a shark in Australia since April 3, when a 63-year-old woman was taken by a 10-to-13-foot shark near the village of Tathra, 210 miles south of Sydney.
Although sharks are common off Australia's coast, the country has averaged fewer than two fatal attacks per year in recent decades. But fatal attacks are becoming more common. Two men were killed in shark attacks off the east and west coasts in the space of a week in November last year. They were the only fatalities in 2013.