Great White Shark
A UK man was killed by a shark in the popular surfers' destination of Byron Bay in Australia.Getty

A British ex-pat who died after a shark attack at a popular surfers' spot was named as Paul Wilcox.

According to a police statement he was "bitten on the right leg by what is believed to be a shark.

"He was seen floating in shallow water, close to the shore line, and dragged on to the beach."

Wilcox was around 20m away from the beach when he was reportedly attacked by a two-metre black-finned shark. His wife Victoria was on the beach at the time.

Another person who saw the attack, paddled into the water, pulled Wilcox to shore and tried to resuscitate him before two doctors treated him.

Police officials said that the man is believed to have died due to loss of blood from a bite on his right leg. Beaches in the area have been closed for 24 hours and people warned to stay away from the water.

"I just thought he may still be alive and I wanted to get him onto the shore," Mark Hickey, a Newcastle-based lawyer who brought the attack victim ashore told the Australian, adding: "It was really terrible; I just felt so bad for the guy and his family. I just wanted to do all I could to help him."

Hickey also told local media he saw a "six or seven foot" shark in the water.

When told of the fatal accident, Wilcox's mother said it was a "blessing" that his death had probably been quick, adding: "He died doing what he wanted to do...it's not as though somebody attacked him in the street," she told the BBC.

"It's not as though he was shot in Afghanistan which mothers have had to go through."

Rescue organisation Surf Lifesaving Australia said the beach was not supervised at the time of the attack.

The shark attack is the first to claim a life in Australian waters since April when a middle-aged woman was killed off the coast near Sydney. More than six people have lost their lives to shark attacks in the country over the past two years.

In January, the Australian government began a controversial three-month culling program following the rise in fatalities from shark attacks. Nearly 50 tiger sharks were killed between January 25 and April 30, and 172 sharks were caught under the program, CNN reported in May.