Two bronze whalers attacked surfer Sean Pollard in waters east of Esperance, severing part of both of his arms.

A 23-year-old surfer who lost a hand and part of his other arm in a shark attack off Western Australia’s south coast was reportedly mauled by two bronze whalers in a “feeding frenzy”.

Bunbury man Sean Pollard underwent emergency surgery at Royal Perth Hospital on Thursday night after he was attacked while surfing late morning near Wylie Bay at Kelpids Beach, about 6km east of Esperance.

The state’s Fisheries Department responded by catching and killing two white pointer sharks, one measuring up to 4.5 metres and the other three metres.

But according to ABC TV, the person who spoke to Mr Pollard immediately after the attack said he believed he had been mauled by two bronze whalers and described it as a “feeding frenzy”.

While the full extent of his injuries is not yet known, Esperance Shire President Malcolm Heasman said Mr Pollard lost a hand and an arm from the elbow down. One of his legs has also reportedly been injured.

As soon as he was helped to shore by someone who witnessed the attack, Mr Pollard received first aid from an off-duty paramedic, who was fortunately at the scene, Mr Heasman told AAP.

He was rushed to Esperance Hospital for initial treatment and later flown to Royal Perth Hospital, where he is in a stable condition.

Mr Pollard’s teammates at South Bunbury Football Club posted on Facebook: “Our thoughts are with Polly and his family. We are with you all the way mate.”

Director Jeff Hayres said the club was devastated.

“No one wants to see a 23-year-old in his prime be in this situation,” he told ABC radio.

There may well be an outcry from conservationists if bronze whalers are confirmed as Mr Pollard’s attackers, given the Fisheries response in killing the two sharks represents the first time white pointers – a protected species – have been killed by WA officials.

Premier Colin Barnett’s initial response to the attack was saying a shark being in the area during school holidays posed a significant threat to public safety.

He said because it was an unpatrolled beach, his government’s newly scrapped drumline policy would not have been applicable.

“That said, today’s attack is an unfortunate and tragic reminder of how serious the threat is,” Mr Barnett said.

Mr Heasman said there had been a few more shark sightings than normal in the area in recent weeks.

In October last year, abalone diver Greg Pickering was attacked by a white pointer – suffering severe facial injuries and almost losing an eye – at Cape Arid National Park, about two hours’ drive from Esperance.

That shark was never found.