A West Australian man died after a shark attacked him while he was kitesurfing in New Caledonia Tuesday afternoon.
The 50-year-old was surfing on a reef off the coast of Koumac when he fell off his board and into the water, Australian broadcaster Seven News reported. That’s when a shark attacked the man, who has not been publicly identified, biting him on the thigh.
“The crew on the sailing yacht, they saw the attack,” Nicolas Renaud, director of New Caledonia’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, told Sky News. “They tried to save him, to give him a heart massage, but it was too late.”
The victim was on a 10-day vacation on the main island of New Caledonia, an archipelago and French territory east of Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. He had booked a catamaran out to the reef for a day of surfing, according to Sky News.
The boat’s crew alerted authorities of the attack after pulling the kitesurfer back on to the boat, the Maritime Coordination Center said in a statement that the Australian Broadcasting Company obtained.
Emergency responders declared him dead an hour later.
“He suffered a deep bite to the thigh from a big shark,” Renaud told the broadcaster. “We don’t know for the moment what species it was.”
The attack occurred in a reef-protected lagoon, far from shore, The Washington Post reported.
Renaud said this was the fourth shark attack, and second fatal one, in New Caledonia this year. A woman was fatally attacked last April while at a beach in Poe, on the island’s western coast, according to Australian news website News.com.au.