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Shark Kills Surfer in 'Unprecedented' Attack at Popular Australian Beach

·3 min read

Getty Tuncurry Beach in Forster, Australia

A surfer has died after he was attacked by a shark at a popular Australian beach, authorities said.

The fatal incident occurred on Tuesday at Tuncurry Beach in Forster, which is located off of Australia's eastern coast, according to a statement from the New South Wales Police Force.

Police said the man, who was believed to be in his 50s, was surfing in the water around 11 a.m. when he was attacked by the shark.

Approximately 20 minutes later, emergency services were called to the scene, where they found the man with "critical injuries to his upper right thigh after being attacked," according to police.

A spokesperson for New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance also confirmed in a tweet that their paramedics showed up to the beach to treat the victim.

After pulling the man from the water, police said officers from Manning Great Lakes Police District began performing CPR.

However, "despite the best efforts of paramedics and bystanders at the scene, the man could not be resuscitated," the NSW Ambulance explained in a tweet. The surfer died at the scene, police confirmed.

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In the wake of the incident, police said Tuncurry Beach and Forster Main Beach were closed.

Officials were also working to piece together more information on the victim and his final moments before the attack, according to Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC).

Witnesses at the scene told the outlet that the man was on vacation at Tuncurry Beach and surfing with friends prior to the incident.

Superintendent Christopher Schilt also noted to ABC that the man reportedly spotted the shark before the attack and attempted to notify other surfers in the water.

"It's believed that when the attack occurred the man did actually see the shark and called out to try and warn others and, very heroically, his friends were able to bring him back in to shore after he had been attacked," Schilt explained.

Police are now working with the Department of Primary Industries to "identify the species responsible," according to their statement.

At this time, the department's scientists believe the bite may have been caused by a four-and-a-half meter (14.76-foot) white shark based on their analysis of photographs of the bite, ABC reported.

"There was some damage to the board," Schilt told the outlet. "The board will be getting forensically examined ... we've got scientists from the DPI who are working with our forensic police and they will use the damage from the board to assess what kind of shark it was."

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Speaking to ABC, Brian Wilcox, of the local Surf Life Saving branch, said the attack was "unprecedented" but noted that the number of shark spottings has increased since the incident.

"I can't recall ever having a shark attack in this area," he explained to the outlet. "We've already had a drone up in the air to see if we could spot some sharks in the area. There were a couple of sharks spotted, whether they were the one or not, who knows."

A total of 18 unprovoked shark attacks happened in Australia in 2020, with eight of those occurring in New South Wales, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History, which track shark attacks worldwide.

Of those 18 unprovoked attacks, six of them were fatal, the outlet reported.

Surfers and beachgoers in NSW are now being advised to follow NSW's SharkSmart Twitter page or download their SharkSmart app for up-to-date information on shark sightings.

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