A female surfer has been saved by her heroic husband after being mauled by a great white shark on at a popular beach on the New South Wales coast.
Chantelle Doyle, 35, was surfing with her husband Mark Rapley at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie, on the mid-north coast when she was attacked about 9.30am on Saturday.
The beast attacked her right calf and the back of her thigh before Mr Rapley launched into action, repeatedly punching the predator in a bid to save her.
He leapt onto its back and fought off the animal until it finally let his wife go.
The young couple have a three-year-old son together who they are raising at Cromer on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, reported Nine News.
Surfer Peter Lobb described hearing a piercing scream from the woman who had been sitting on her board in shallow surf.
‘It was unbelievable, the scream was incredible and there was splashing everywhere,’ another witness Jed Toohey told The Daily Telegraph.
He described seeing Mr Rapley put his partner up on his board before punching the shark because it would not let go.
‘He saved her life…it would have been strong enough to take her out to sea. He was really incredible.’
Mr Lobb, Mr Toohey, his 16-year-old daughter Dominica, and two other nearby surfers then paddled over to help the pair.
Mr Lobb said the group and another woman on the beach then applied a tourniquet to try and stop the bleeding from a gash on her calf and another on her thigh.
‘Chantelle kept saying, ‘I’m okay’. She was so calm and relaxed. But then her leg started to get numb,’ he said.
Emergency services rushed to the beach where the woman was found with significant lacerations to her right leg.
It is the third serious attack NSW Ambulance has responded to in recent months.
The 35-year-old was rushed to Port Macquarie Base Hospital with serious leg injuries, but has since been flown to Newcastle where she will undergo surgery.
A young bystander described watching the shark swim up and down the beach after the attack, leaping out of the water with the victim’s surfboard in its mouth after Her loving husband was forced to punch the two metre juvenile white shark until it let go.
‘The shark wouldn’t release her and so a nearby surfer paddled over and essentially jumped on the shark and started hitting it to make it release,’ Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce told AAP.
The surfer described it as a ‘tremendous act of bravery’.
‘We’ve had some really serious and tragic shark encounters over the past couple of months along the NSW coastline so to paddle out of your own safety zone, in to an area where you know there is a large shark, I think is amazing.’
Mr Pearce is urging swimmers and surfers to be ‘shark smart’ as summer approaches, but says the number of daylight attacks in recent times concerns him.
‘As we’ve seen this morning, there are occasions where people can be shark smart and they think they’re doing all the right things, but unfortunately, they’re just in that wrong place at the wrong time.’
Mr Pearce said lifesavers would search the waters with jet skis and drones to confirm if the shark was still nearby.
He explained lifesavers were on call and not on duty because it was off-season but arrived to the scene quickly.
Lifesaver James Turnham said the incident would have been quite an ordeal for the victim.
‘It did take a bit of effort to get that shark off her,’ he told Nine News.
Three paramedic crews and a specialist medical team in the Westpac Helicopter responded to the incident, which a NSW Ambulance spokesman said is the third serious shark attack on the north coast in the past few months.
Duty Operations Manager at NSW Ambulance Inspector Andrew Beverley said paramedics were on the scene within eight minutes.
‘The bystanders on scene that rendered assistance should be commended,’ he said.
‘They did an amazing job before we arrived.’
Ms Doyle remains in a stable condition after undergoing extensive surgery at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.
Her family rushed to be by her side after hearing the horrific news earlier this morning.
Lifeguards at Port Macquarie have closed beaches in the area following the attack.
‘Beaches in Port Macquarie will be closed for the day due to a shark attack at Shelly Beach,’ Port Macquarie ALS Lifeguards wrote on Facebook.
Mr Pearce said there would be a ‘heightened vigilance’ in shark surveillance across New South Wales beginning in September.
He explained 400 lifesavers would pilot drones across 40 locations to monitor the water for shark activity.
Mr Pearce said this aerial observation would work in conjunction with SMART drum lines that alert authorities if a tagged shark is in the area.
The long stretch of sandy white beach located on the NSW mid-north coast is surrounded by rainforests and popular among families and tourists.
There have been five fatal shark attacks in Australian waters in 2020.
One of them was in WA in January, when experienced diver Gary Johnson, 57, was taken near Cull Island, close to West Beach in Esperance.
In July, a 10-year-old boy suffered shock and cuts when a shark ripped him from a fishing boat about five kilometres offshore from Stanley in northwest Tasmania.
Days later, on July 12 Mani Hart-Deville, 15, was mauled to death by a shark at Wooli Beach, north of Coffs Harbour while surfing.