The man’s surfboard has been found, but he has not been located, police said in the statement.
Shortly after the attack, authorities received a public report of a shark sighting at the beach, the DPIRD said. The species was unknown.
Beaches in the area have since been closed. Water police are conducting a marine search and rescue operation, with additional vessels deployed to assist.
There have been at least six deadly shark attacks off the country’s beaches this year, according to the Australian Shark Attack File at the Taronga Conservation Society Australia. There were no fatal shark attacks in Australia last year and only one in 2018, according to the society’s database.
McGowan said the state’s south coast, especially near Esperance, was a known breeding ground for sharks like great whites.
Esperance is about 720 kilometers (447 miles) southeast of the state capital, Perth, and is a popular diving spot.
There have been a number of shark attacks near Esperance in recent years — most notably in 2017, when 17-year old Laeticia Brouwer was killed while surfing with her father.
Numerous attacks have also been reported in other Australian states including Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania in recent months.