A number of Gold Coast beaches have been shut off to the public as authorities search for the shark responsible for dragging a man underwater in a fatal attack at a popular surf spot.
The surfer killed on Tuesday in the region’s first-ever fatal shark attack since the late 1950s has been identified by The Courier Mail as Miami man Nick Slater.
Stories from witnesses are emerging in the morning after the 46-year-old was pronounced dead by paramedics after succumbing to leg injuries sustained in the attack at Greenmount Beach.
“The guy who was surfing nearby said it was just so quick,” a lifeguard told 10 News.
“It was a pretty big go at him, the shark had.”
Other surfers recounted seeing the shark moving underneath their boards, while footage from surf cameras filming the break caught the attack and its aftermath.
One man who rushed to Mr Slater’s aid initially thought he had been knocked out because he did not appear to be moving in the water.
“We got him onto the sand. There was a lifeguard 4WD there already … and they had a stretcher. We put him on the stretcher but he was pretty much gone by then,” the man told 7 News.
“There wasn’t any blood.
“From the groin to his knee, there was nothing there. It was just like hanging there but not much.”
Jade Parker joined in the rescue effort upon seeing Mr Slater’s surfboard “floating” in the water.
“I ran down to the beach, dropped my board [and] sort of trudged through the line-up to get to him,” Mr Parker told reporters.
By that point, there were about three other people dragging him out, Mr Parker recalled, saying he saw no blood in the water.
The group waited for lifeguards to arrive, but “he was pretty much already gone by then”, Mr Parker said.
“From the groin to his knee was just – there was nothing there.”
Queensland Police said Mr Slater suffered a life-threatening leg injury and could not be revived at the scene.
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said, “like every Gold Coaster tonight, I am both shocked and saddened to learn of this terrible tragedy”.
Beaches from Burleigh to Snapper Rocks have been closed for the day and lifeguards are patrolling the waters on jet skis.
A Westpac Lifesaver Rescue helicopter was circling in the area after first light on Wednesday looking for sharks.
Greenmount Beach has drum lines and is one of several on the Gold Coast with shark nets.
But according to the state’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries shark net program website, shark nets do “not provide an impenetrable barrier between sharks and humans”.
They also do not prevent sharks from entering a particular area, the website warned.
It said: “They’re intended to catch ‘resident sharks’ and sharks that pass through the area while feeding on fish bait.”
It is the second fatal shark attack in Queensland in little more than two months after 36-year-old Matthew Tratt died while spearfishing off Fraser Island in early July.
In June, Gold Coast surfer Rob Pedretti, 60, died after he was mauled by a three-metre white shark at Salt Beach at South Kingscliff in northern NSW.