Surfer mauled to death by great white shark was ‘trying to protect his friends’

A surfer who died after being mauled to death by a giant killer shark was trying to protect his friends from the monster.

The as yet unidentified victim, 59, was bitten by the fearsome 4.5-metre (14ft) beast as he desperately tried to alert mates to the shark at Tuncurry Beach, near Forster in New South Wales.

The shark, believed to be a sea predator known locally as Bruce, bit a huge chunk out of his right thigh while he was surfing at 11:20am on Tuesday morning.

Its victim, thought to be from Sydney's Northern Beaches and on a surfing holiday with friends, spotted the shark in the water and tried to raise the alarm before it struck, according to police.

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

The victim was dragged from from the water and received CPR before being taken to a nearby dog park, but died at 12.40pm – before he could be airlifted to hospital.

He is thought to have been attacked by a large white pointer – affectionately named Bruce by locals.

"Bruce has been swimming around there for years now finally big enough to attack someone. RIP old mate," one witness said, fearing the popular shark would now be culled.

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"Probs the local white," one person added, while another said they were "pretty sure it was Brucey".

NSW Ambulance confirmed the man was unable to be saved.

In a tweet, the emergency services wrote: "Despite the best efforts of paramedics and bystanders at the scene, the man could not be resuscitated."

Joshua Smyth, NSW Ambulance inspector, praised members of the public who had managed to bring the man ashore.

“Bystanders, including a retired paramedic, did a valiant job pulling the patient from the water and commencing CPR before paramedics arrived,” he said.

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Emergency services, including an air ambulance, rushed to the beach following the terrifying attack.

Beaches in Tuncurry and Forster were closed following the incident.

The MidCoast Council posted on Facebook to confirm the closures.

“In response to a shark attack at Tuncurry Beach this morning, we have closed all beaches from Black Head to One Mile at Forster,” the council said.

“This decision has been made based on advice from Surf Life Saving NSW officials. We will update here (Facebook) once beaches are reopened.”

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Police said they were working with the Department of Primary Industries to identify the species responsible for what is Australia's first shark attack fatality of the year.

Drones have been deployed in the area, while photographs of the bite are currently being analysed by DPI scientists to try to determine the species and size of the shark.

There are reports a great white shark was detected at Main Beach on Monday.

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

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“I can’t recall ever having a shark attack in this area,” he told ABC TV.

One local posted on Facebook that there was an "eerie feeling" at the beach after what had happened.

"Rest in peace fellow waterman," the person wrote.

Tuncurry Beach is a known breeding ground for great white sharks.

Last year, 12 people were killed by sharks in Australia – the highest death toll since 2013.

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