The 25-year-old Oxford University graduate, who worked for the Financial Times, was last seen "waving his hands in the air" before he was dragged underwater at Crocodile Rock near Arugam Bay.
The journalist, Paul McClean, 24, who was with a group of friends, was dragged away on Thursday close to Arugam Bay, 400 kilometres south-east of the capital, police quoted eyewitnesses as saying.
According to locals, he had been staying at East Beach Surf Resort, minutes away from the spot where he was attacked.
McClean, who belonged to Surrey in the United Kingdom, was an Oxford graduate with a first class honours degree in French.
"Paul McClean was an outstanding young journalist with a great future at the FT", said editor Lionel Barber.
"There were six or seven wounds on his right leg", the spokesman said.
"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones".
Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School, located near the coast from where the tragic incident took place, told the BBC Radio 5 Live that surfers from his school were called to help fishermen attempting to rescue the journalist. This is a sad time.
The paper reports that cause of death has yet to be established but that officials believe he was attacked by a crocodile.
"We are liaising closely with his family and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and offering the FT's assistance", said Lamont. The army was down inside the river, and many people are checking the shores through their boats because the crocodile never eats anything in the water and takes its prey towards the dry land area to eat.
The last story he wrote was published two days ago on the impact of climate change on the champagne industry. Both tourists and locals surf at Elephant Rock, which is a lovely secluded beach and very safe.
Lafeer said crocodiles had been known to hide bodies in the mud.
A British tourist died in Sri Lanka in a suspected crocodile attack on Friday.