'Heroic' Surfer Punches Shark Attacking His Wife, Saves Her Life

A man has been praised for his swift action and bravery after he leapt off his surfboard and punched a shark that was attacking his wife while they were surfing in New South Wales, Australia.

Chantelle Doyle, 35, was surfing on Saturday morning when she was attacked by the 10-foot great white. Doyle's husband, who was named by local media as Mark Rapley, jumped off his surfboard onto the shark, which he punched repeatedly until it released its grip and he was able to take her to shore.

"This fella paddled over and jumped off his board onto the shark and hit it to get it to release her and then assisted her back into the beach," said Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce, adding, "Pretty full on, really heroic," he added, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Bystanders and paramedics treated Doyle at the scene and she was flown to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, where she is in a serious but stable condition. She has wounds in several places after being bitten on the right calf then the back of her thigh and is expected to undergo surgery.

"The patient suffered severe lacerations to her right leg," said NSW Ambulance duty operations manager Inspector Andrew Beverley, Australia's ABC News reported.

"The bystanders on scene that rendered assistance should be commended. They did an amazing job. A makeshift tourniquet was utilized, which was a potentially life-saving instrument. She's very, very fortunate without doubt," he added.

Following the attack, authorities closed beaches in the area for 24 hours. Surf Life Saving NSW is trying to spot the shark, using drones, jetskis and inflatable rescue boats to ensure the safety of swimmers.

NSW lifeguard supervisor James Turnham told ABC that people were being advised that if they went into the water in the nearby beaches, "it's at their own risk. We advise them not to swim at the moment due to what's happened."

"If there's another shark sighting, we may need to extend that period of beach closures. If there's no further sightings, hopefully by Monday things will be back to normal," he added.

There have been five fatal shark attacks in Australia in 2020 and this was the third serious shark attack on the stretch of coast in recent months.

Rob Pedretti, 60, died after he was attacked by a 9-foot shark at Salt Beach near Kingscliff in June. The following month, Mani Hart-Deville, a 15-year-old student from Minnie Water, died after being attacked at Wooli Beach.