An Australian man has died after he was bitten by a shark while kitesurfing in New Caledonia on Tuesday afternoon.
The 50-year-old from Western Australia was on a reef at Koumac with a group of others on a nearby catamaran at around 3.40pm local time (2.40pm AEST) when he fell into the water.
He was then attacked by a large shark, leaving him with a significant injury to his right thigh.
The catamaran, Discovery, raised the alarm and a rescue boat was dispatched. In a statement, New Caledonia’s Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the man went into cardiac arrest and was given first aid by his friends before rescuers arrived.
The last fatal shark attack in New Caledonia, a French territory east of Australia, was in April, when a woman was killed at a beach on Poe in the west of the island group.
There were 98 shark attacks globally last year – the highest number recorded, according to researchers at the University of Florida, which has been collecting data since 1958. Six of the attacks were fatal.
Theories on the increase include rising water temperatures caused by climate change making sharks change their habits, the El Niño weather pattern, which was particularly powerful last year, and the increasing popularity of watersports.