The attack happened off the east coast near where a 4 1/2- meter (15- foot) great white shark was seen on Friday, government ranger Peter Lingard told The Examiner newspaper.

A 4.5m (15ft) great white shark was spotted in the area on Friday, ABC reports.

The last fatal attack off the Australian coast occurred in February. Japanese tourist Tadashi Nakahara, 41, lost both his legs to a great white shark 3 to 4 metres (10 to 13 feet) long while surfing at Ballina, 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) north of the scene of Saturday’s attack.

Saturday’s shark attack occurred as Australian professional surfer Mick Fanning made his first return to the water since he fought off a large shark during a World Surf League competition in South Africa last weekend.

The three-time world champion went surfing alone at his hometown of Tweed Heads, 700 kilometres (430 miles) north of Sydney. He had contemplated giving up the sport after he was knocked off his board by a large shark at Jeffreys Bay. That attack was televised live around the world. He survived unscathed.

“First surf back. Feels so good,” Fanning wrote under a silhouetted photo of himself looking out to the ocean, which he posted on Instagram.

Sharks are common off Australia’s beaches, but fatal attacks are rare. The country has averaged fewer than two deadly attacks per year in recent decades.