SYDNEY (AFP) - A surfer was killed by a shark in Western Australia on Saturday when the animal attacked him after bouncing off the surfboard of another man, police said.
Police were called early Saturday to Lefthanders Beach near Gracetown, about 270 kilometres south of Perth, after the alarm was raised at the popular surfing spot.
Police said the animal appeared to have made contact with another surfer before it lashed out and caused the fatal injuries to a 35-year-old man.
"From what we understand, the shark bounced off the surfboard of one surfer before attacking the other," Acting Sergeant Norm Giocas of Margaret River police said.
Reports said the victim had been dragged to shore by a fellow surfer who gathered him onto his board, while witnesses described the man as having horrific injuries.
"I ran up the beach and called police," surfer Mr Ryan Scanlon, who had been about to enter the water when the tragedy unfolded, told the Perth Now website.
"I saw him wash up. He was missing his left arm and flesh off the right leg." The Department of Fisheries and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River have closed a number of local beaches as a result of the death, including the main Gracetown beach.
The Department of Fisheries reportedly issued a "search and kill" notice for the shark.
Sharks are common in Australian waters but deadly attacks are rare, with only one of the average 15 incidents a year typically proving fatal.
Last month, a commercial diver suffered substantial injuries when he was attacked by a shark off a remote area of Western Australia.
There has not been a fatality since July 2012 when a surfer was bitten in half off the coast of Western Australia, capping an unprecedented spate of five deadly attacks by the marine predators that sparked calls for a cull.
Local marine scientists have described Australia's west coast as the deadliest shark attack zone in the world, and a tagging and tracking programme has been launched in a bid to limit fatalities.