Champion surfer Mathieu Schiller was killed in a frenzied shark attack that lasted less than 30 seconds after he was dragged from his surfboard on Bouncan Canot beach, on the French island of Réunion.
The 32-year-old was believed to have been attacked by a man-eating tiger shark that swam off afterwards.
Surfers searched for the Frenchman’s body afterwards but police said it was carried away in the waves.
‘There were around 20 people in shallow water and about five surfers out deeper when it happened,’ a witness told Réunion’s local news website.
‘We saw the shark’s nose emerge and then the man just vanished. It was very sudden, then the animal just swam off.
‘Some of those nearby tried to reach him but his body was dragged away by the current.’
Mr Schiller’s death is the second fatal shark attack on the island in the Indian Ocean this year. Three other people have been injured by sharks there since January, including one man whose leg was bitten off.
The attack also follows that of British honeymooner Ian Redmond, 32, who was savaged while swimming 9m (30ft) off the island of Praslin in the Seychelles last month.
‘Although attacks are rare, sharks in this area can strike without warning at any moment,’ said shark expert Remy Tezier.
Red flags would now be put up at beaches with a high risk of shark attacks and water sports would be banned, a Réunion official said.
Mr Schiller, the European team body boarding champion in 1995, opened a surf school on Réunion in 2008.