Great White Shark
A great white shark as big as a 19-foot boat was spotted off Scarborough beach in northern Perth. Monterey Bay Aquarium

A deadly shark attack off the coast of western Australia left a bodyboarder dead, Sunday, and forced local authorities to seal off a popular surfing spot and embark on a mission to hunt the elusive predator.

A shark, suspected to be 5-feet-long, snatched a man in his early 20s, who was paddling with 5 friends in the popular surfing spot called Sugar Loaf Rock, off Bunker Bay near the western town of Dunsborough, and savaged him underwater, ripping off his legs.

The man died on the spot even as his friends rushed to alert the police. There were around 30 surfers in the water at the time of the attack.

The local authorities were taken by surprise as this is the first shark fatal attack in the Sugar Loaf Rock in more than 20 years and the first in Australia since February. The beach was sealed off after the attack.

Rescue workers are still searching for the man's missing limbs as well as the elusive shark. It is suspected that the limbs may have been eaten or taken away by the shark.

Australia's pristine beaches and waters are visited by millions of people every year despite reports of sharks prowling the coastal reef in search of prey. Sharks generally infest waters where there are seals and whales but attacks on humans are rare with only 24 recorded fatalities in the 20 years up to June 2009, or an average of just 1.2 shark-related deaths per year, according to official data.