The incident is the eighth off Australian beaches in the past three months.
Police in New South Wales said the 36-year-old was in the water near Scotts Head Beach, 300 miles (490km) north of Sydney, when he was bitten during a morning surf.
An ambulance service spokesman said: “The man suffered a severe leg injury below his knee on his right leg.
“He had five deep lacerations and he suffered a lot of blood loss.”
Surf Life Saving NSW lifeguards said the man, who was flown to hospital in a serious condition, was in the water with several other surfers but soon disappeared from view.
Spokeswoman Donna Wishart told ABC: “One of them has seen him disappear under the water, with a flume of water spraying up and then the victim has lifted his arm up to indicate he was having a problem.”
Officials do not yet know what kind of shark was involved.
Authorities have tried out measures such as aerial drones to track sharks in the water and “smart” drum lines that alert officials to their whereabouts.
Shark attack fatalities are still rare in Australia despite it having one of the highest rates of incidents in the world.
Australia has seen 16 “unprovoked” incidents in 2018 alone.
According to data from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, one swimmer died after being mauled by a shark in the Whitsunday Islands in November.
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