A husband who punched a great white shark in the eye as it mauled his wife has relived the terrifying ordeal – while insisting he isn’t a hero.
Chantelle Doyle, 35, was surfing with the love of her life Mark Rapley at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie, on the New South Wales mid-north coast, when she was attacked at about 9.30am on Saturday.
The beast latched on to Ms Doyle’s right calf and the back of her thigh before Mr Rapley launched into action, punching the predator eight times.
Mr Rapley was quickly hailed a hero around the nation for leaping on to the sharks back and fighting it off until it finally let his wife go.
He has now revealed what went through his mind during the horrific ordeal.
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 couple weren’t in the water long before Mr Rapley noticed his wife get knocked off her board.
‘I knew she was going to be in trouble… I just started paddling over and you react,’ Mr Rapley said.
‘When you see the mother of your child, your support and everything that’s who you are – you just react, you just think “get off that calf, get off”.’
‘You’re not thinking “punch” your body just reacts… you start punching, you start thinking where to punch, I’ll attack the eye.’
Despite coming face-to-face with the two-metre beast, Mr Rapley said his partner was the one who showed real strength for getting back on to her surfboard.
Local surfer Mark White said Ms Doyle knew she had sustained serious injuries but was ‘amazing’ in keeping herself together.
Heroic husband Mark Rapley (pictured) punched the shark in a bid to save his beloved wife Chantelle
Mr Rapley said the other surfers and the people on the beach were the real heroes for working to save both his and Ms Doyle’s life.
‘Two guys paddled behind me straight toward her, and that’s not their wife,’ he said.
‘I don’t like that (hero) title but I would love it bandied around with the collection of people who did an amazing job to keep her alive – and she’s alive.’
Surfer Peter Lobb described hearing a piercing scream from the woman who had been sitting on her board in shallow surf.
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
Witness Jed Toohey described the scene as ‘unbelievable’ and said there was ‘splashing everywhere’.
He described seeing Mr Rapley put his partner up on his board before punching the shark because it would not let go and could have taken her out to sea.
Mr Lobb, Mr Toohey, his 15-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.
Chantelle Doyle mauled by an enormous shark on at a popular beach on the New South Wales coast
Chantelle Doyle, 35, (pictured) was surfing with her husband and friends at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie, on the mid-north coast when she was attacked about 9.30am
‘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.’
The young couple have a three-year-old son together who they are raising at Cromer on Sydney’s Northern Beaches
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.
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
The 35-year-old woman was surfing with a male friend at Shelly Beach (pictured) in Port Macquarie, on the mid-north coast when she was attacked about 10am
‘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.
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.