Yves Berthelot, 50, was pulled out of the water bleeding heavily after the huge 3.5m-long bull shark inflicted multiple bites to his arm and groin. He was given medical attention by his friends but died before paramedics reached the scene.

“It was really a savage and sudden attack,” a military police spokesman told local radio in the French overseas territory, which is located in the south-west Pacific around 750 miles east of Australia. “Most people on board were health workers; the first aid given was significant but the injuries were such that unfortunately there was not much that could be done.”

It is understood that Mr Berthelot – who ran a call centre on the archipelago – was on a weekend boating trip through the southern islands with his wife and six other people. The attack took place as the father-of-one snorkelled in shallow water just yards from the boat, which was moored off the island of Kouare.

Mr Berthelot’s wife, Anne, later posted on Facebook: “I have lost the man of my life tonight.”

Australian surfer Bruce Lucas, 46, survived a suspected bull shark attack earlier this month when he repeatedly punched the fish in the face using his one free arm after it sank its teeth into his left bicep off the coast of New South Wales.