A man has been killed in an apparent shark attack at the popular tourist destination of Byron Bay on the Australian east coast.

Ambulance spokeswoman Jackie Levett said an emergency phone call was made Tuesday morning to report the man, aged in his 40s, "had a very serious bite to his leg suspected to be from a shark."

Levett said he was pulled from the water at Clarkes Beach where he was treated by a doctor. But he was pronounced dead.

Police said in a statement they were speaking to a number of people to try to determine the identity of the man.