A man is in a critical condition after being attacked by a shark off the Australian east coast.

The 59-year-old victim suffered “catastrophic bleeding” from being bitten on the upper thigh at Britomart Reef, near Queensland, on Sunday.

He had been spearfishing with a local group when the attack happened, police said.

Other people in the group made a makeshift tourniquet before paramedics arrived to treat him on a boat ramp.

The man was then airlifted to hospital to undergo emergency surgery.

“On arrival, he didn’t have a pulse, so I would say that’s not a good place to be in,” said Ray Hardy from Queensland ambulance service.

Paramedic David Humphreys said the man had suffered a “very significant shark bite” to his upper thigh and pelvis region.

“Obviously the concern was catastrophic bleeding which we did our best to arrest, to get control of and yet he remained in a critical condition after our interventions and he’s now undergoing emergency surgery… in the hospital,” he said.

Britomart Reef is a popular Queensland snorkelling and spearfishing site.

Seven shark attack deaths have been recorded so far in 2020, making it Australia’s worst year for fatal attacks since 2014.

In September, 46-year-old Nick Slater was killed after being attacked at Greenmount Beach in Queensland, despite the beach having shark nets.

The last fatal attack before that was in July, when a 36-year-old spear fisherman died after being bitten on the leg off Queensland’s Gold Coast.

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