A MAN has been killed in an apparent shark attack at the popular tourist destination of Byron Bay on the Australian east coast.

An emergency phone call to the ambulance service reported that the man, in his 40s, "had a very serious bite to his leg, suspected to be from a shark."

He was pulled from the water at Clarkes Beach where he was treated by a doctor but he was pronounced dead.

Police have yet to identify the man or establish what he had been doing in the water. Local media reported he was believed to have been surfing alone.

Byron Bay is a renowned surfing location near Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland some 500 miles north of Sydney.

The death is the first blamed on a shark in Australia since April 3 when a 63-year-old woman was taken by a 10 to 13ft shark as she took her daily ocean swim near the village of Tathra, 210 miles south of Sydney.

Fatal shark attacks are becoming more common.