Great white shark
A surfer has died after he was mauled by a 4.5m great white shark off Tuncurry Beach on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

It's the first confirmed fatal shark attack in Australian waters this year, though it's believed another man was killed by a shark off South Australia in January.

Paramedics were called to the beach, just north of Forster, about 11:20am on Tuesday, after the man in his 50s was bitten while surfing.

Police say the man suffered serious injuries to his upper thigh.

He was pulled from the water but died despite the efforts of bystanders and emergency workers to revive him.

Shark scientists from the NSW Department of Primary Industry have since analysed photos of the bite and determined a white shark about 4.5m long is likely responsible for the attack.

NSW Ambulance inspector Joshua Smyth praised the bystanders who entered the water to bring the injured man to shore despite the risk.

"Bystanders, including a retired paramedic, did a valiant job pulling the patient from the water and commencing CPR before paramedics arrived," he said.

Surf Lifesaving NSW has closed beaches from Blackhead beach to One Mile beach for at least 24 hours, and the DPI is deploying smart drumlines at Tuncurry beach.

Drones have been deployed in the area, as the DPI and police search for the shark responsible.

A great white shark was reportedly detected at nearby Main beach on Monday.

Local lifesaver Brian Wilcox said the attack was "pretty unprecedented".

"I can't recall ever having a shark attack in this area," he told ABC TV.

The DPI has advised water users and beach goers to follow the NSW SharkSmart Twitter feed or download the SharkSmart app for the latest information on shark movements and sightings.

Eight people were killed in shark attacks in Australian waters last year, according to the Taronga Conservation Society which records shark fatalities.

In January a Victorian man went missing in waters off Port MacDonnell in South Australia, and his torn wetsuit was later found, but his case was not recorded as an official shark fatality.

Source: Australian Associated Press