A woman in her 60s has died after a shark attack on the NSW south coast.

Authorities were searching the ocean off Tathra for the woman’s body and the shark, police said.

The woman was swimming with a group of people between Tathra Wharf and Tathra Beach about 8.20am.

Police said the woman – who is believed to be a regular early morning swimmer – had turned back from the group and was swimming on her own when she was attacked.

A police spokesman said the group of swimmers was being treated for shock and was under general observation.

“Emergency services are doing what they can for them but naturally they’re shocked and horrified by what’s occurred,” he said.

Westpac Lifesaving operation manager Craig Roberts said police had given the Lifesaver 3 helicopter a search area to scan north and south of the Tathra headland.

He said the helicopter would be dropping dye into the water to determine the flow of the tide.

Two surf-lifesaving vessels, along with local fishing vessels under the coordination of NSW Water Police, were also looking for the shark.

Tathra residents have spoken of the loss of one of their own.

Bega District News editor Ben Smyth is on the scene, and said it came as a shock to locals.

“One woman, who has lived there all her life, said she’s never seen sharks in the area,” he said.

Bob Armstrong has spent 60 years in Tathra and has had a long association with the local surf life saving club.

He said that in the 1950s, the club patrolled around the cliffs and had seen sharks in the area but this is the first attack in the area he has ever known.

The alert went out shortly after 8.40am on Thursday, with police, surf-lifesavers, the ambulance service and the Lifesaver 3 helicopter called to the scene.

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