Australia sees an average of one shark attack death every 12 months—but a brutal attack on a Japanese surfer has brought the total to four fatalities in the past year, the Guardian reports. Tadashi Nakahar, 41, lost both his legs and died at the scene as fellow surfers tried to stop the blood loss in the attack off the coast of New South Wales, just a day after another surfer suffered an apparent attack. A witness describes the latest incident: The shark "went whack and (the surfer) was thrown into the air ... it must have been a huge, huge shark." The animal approached a group of surfers, says another witness, though "they weren’t even that far out." "Here we have a situation where (there is) a significant amount of blood in the water," says a detective, and fellow surfers tried "to rescue this surfer, bring him in on shore."
"We are now concentrating on searching the area and seeing if we can locate that shark. We believe it was a very large shark," an official says, per Australia's ABC News. Yesterday, at another local beach, a 35-year-old was attacked from behind by what is thought to have been a shark; he's currently recovering in the hospital. And last week, a body surfer in Newcastle, also in New South Wales, was bitten on the ankle by a juvenile shark. The attacks, along with a number of shark sightings, have led to extensive beach closures. But an expert notes that despite a booming human population, shark attack rates have stayed about the same in Australia over the past two decades: "That suggests the number of sharks in the water has actually gone down." But they remain brutal: In October, a man lost his hands in an attack. (Read more Australia stories.)