Nick Slater, 46, was found floating face down in the water after the vicious attack. The water surrounding the man’s body had turned red as blood poured from his leg which had been savaged.
A shark had mauled Mr Slater’s leg off the well known surfing spot of Greenmount Beach at Coolangatta.
Another surfer is also understood to have been knocked off their board following the incident but was not attacked.
Despite desperate attempts from locals to give first aid to the man, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Chief Lifeguard Warren Young said: “It was a pretty severe attack and the ambulance and paramedics were here and did what they could, but it was to no avail.”
The shark behind the attack is thought to have been a 3m long great white.
Authorities urgently closed 18km of beaches following the surfer’s death as they launched a search for the animal responsible for the death.
Despite helicopters and jetskis being deployed, the shark is yet to be found.
The city’s mayor Tom Tate has warned the beaches will remain closed until they know it is safe.
READ MORE: Shark study revolutionises how deadly Tiger Sharks hunt for their prey
One local described this shock at learning there had been a fatal attack.
Ian Edgehill told ABC News: “I stopped and I overheard a surfer talking to the paramedics and what had happened, and then I looked and I saw a board with what looked like teeth marks in the middle of it.
“I couldn’t tell you how many centimetres, but it was enough to be noticeable and I automatically knew it was a shark attack when I saw it.
“It’s pretty surprising because when you live around here you just don’t expect things like this at all.
“I came in and I saw a lot of people gathered around and everyone seemed to be quite in shock and didn’t know what was going on, so it was a bit strange.”