A Gold Coast surfer mauled by a suspected white pointer shark is likely to have died before heroic lifeguards and surfers swam out to him, a rescuer says.
Local man Nick Slater was dragged from the water at Greenmount Beach at Coolangatta early on Tuesday night, minutes after the attack.
The 46-year-old real estate agent suffered serious leg injuries and was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene minutes after they arrived.
Fellow surfer Jade Parker was getting ready to hit the water when he spotted Mr Slater floating motionless next to his board in the line-up.
He waded in to help other surfers and lifeguards bringing Mr Slater in.
Mr Parker found a four-centimetre tooth lodged in Mr Slater’s board, which he said was from “an obvious white pointer”.
“It was a good size bite to the board,” he told Seven Network on Wednesday.
“I do not want to get to the gory parts but he was in a bad way. He was not conscious. It looked like he had already pretty much passed away at that point in time.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mr Parker and the other surfers and lifeguards who went to help Mr Slater were heroes.
“The courage to run into the surf moments after a shark attack is beyond admirable and I think are worthy for nomination for bravery awards,” she told parliament on Wednesday morning.
A large tiger shark had since been found in nets off Greenmount Beach.
“Further investigations will be conducted to discover if there is any link between it and the fatal attack,” the Premier said, while offering her condolences to Mr Slater’s family and friends.
Griffith University shark ecologist Johan Gustafson said sharks often followed prey, such as fish, closer to shore and it was likely to be a random attack.
“We are [also] in the elusive white shark season because the waters are still cool,” he said.
Dr Gustafson said sharks were curious animals that sometimes took test bites of objects. That could have devastating effects on humans because the bite pressure was so great.
Earlier, Gold Coast locals and visitors were urged to stay out of the water while lifeguards on jet skis and helicopters searched for the shark.
Beaches remain officially closed to swimmers from the NSW border to Burleigh Heads, an area of about 20 kilometres.
Queensland Lifesaving supervisor Nathan Fife warned swimmers that large fish “bait balls” and whales migrating south were likely to attract sharks toward the coast.
“Don’t swim at dawn or dusk. That is the time marine life is feeding,” he said.
It was the first fatal shark attack on the Gold Coast since a swimmer was killed at Surfers Paradise in 1958.
Greenmount Beach is one of several on the Gold Coast that has a shark net. It also has eight drum lines.
Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said they were regularly checked and the government remained committed to the state’s shark control program at 86 beaches from the Gold Coast to Cairns.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the attack could damage the region’s COVID-19-ravaged tourism industry and urged people wanting to swim to do so north of Burleigh.
“It brings to reality, when we go off the land we go into the water, it is the shark’s domain. The danger’s there,” he told Nine News.
Mr Slater’s death 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.