great white shark
Great White Shark attacks man off the northern NSW coast. 272447 / Pixabay

A 60-year-old Australian surfer was killed by a great white shark Sunday at the northern New South Wales coast.

The incident happened around 10:20 a.m. AEST at Salt Beach in Kingscliffe, about 800km north of Sydney. The man, identified as Rob Pedretti, was attacked by a 10-foot shark which bit the back of his thigh. Other surfers tried to help him fight off the shark, but the shark also circled them and rammed one of their boards.

Pedretti, who is from Queensland, was rushed to the shore but was pronounced dead at 10:40 a.m., the Sydney Morning Herald reported. He died from his wounds.

"NSW Department of Primary Industries shark biologists assessed aerial photographs taken of the shark and bite marks on the victim and concluded that the shark responsible for the attack was a large, three-metre white shark," the Surf Life Saving NSW said in a statement.

Due to the risk and danger it posed on the public, the NSW Police was given permission to kill the shark. However, it was not able to. The shark left the area at 1:15 p.m.

"Under the Department of Primary Industries’ shark incident response protocols, permission may be granted to destroy the shark, if it is considered an ongoing threat to human life," NSW Police said in a statement.

"Police and local rescue helicopter crews monitored the area for some hours; however, the shark left the vicinity about 1.15 pm and has not been seen since. No police firearm was discharged."

Authorities have called the actions of the nearby surfers who came to Pedrettis’s aid “heroic.”

"We'll be making some recommendations at a later stage in regards to their actions today, really heroic actions on their behalf," said Duty Officer Matt Kehoe.

Nearby beaches were cleared of swimmers and surfers after the incident. This is the third fatal shark attack in Australian waters this year. No deaths were recorded last year.