Husband who punched shark attacking his wife recounts terrifying rescue

An Australian woman is recovering after her husband punched away a juvenile great white shark that had bitten her right leg.
/ Source: TODAY

An Australian surfer took a hands-on approach when it came to saving his wife from a vicious shark attack.

Mark Rapley said he repeatedly punched a shark that bit into wife Chantelle Doyle's leg and pulled her off her surfboard Sunday morning while the couple was in the ocean at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie, New South Wales.

Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.

"When you see the mother of your child, and your support, everything that's who you are, so you just react," Rapley told Australia's Nine Network.

"You're not thinking punch it, punch it anytime soon, you're just, your body reacts to saying get off, get off. So you start punching it, you start thinking amazingly where to punch it, and so you're like, 'I'll just attack the eye or whatever.' You just start thinking differently, I suppose."

The shark was estimated to be a juvenile great white between 6 1/2 and 10 feet long by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. It bit Doyle, 35, on the right calf and the back of her thigh before Rapley paddled over to her board and punched it off of her, according to the New South Wales Police.

"It hit her like with a force, threw her off the board," Rapley told Nine Network. "I just saw the water splash and punch, and I knew instantaneously.

"They feel like a ball of muscle. It feels like you're punching a brick wall. It's hard."

Doyle was taken to Port Macquarie Hospital in stable condition and then was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital, where she will undergo surgery, according to the police.

"The immediate first aid, the immediate support assisting the patient from the water, was quite amazing," Andy Beverly of New South Wales Ambulance told reporters in a press conference. "The application of, I understand, a tourniquet, a makeshift tourniquet, was utilized, which was potentially a life-saving instrument."

Authorities are now using drones, boats and jet skis to track the shark, while Doyle recovers from the frightening attack.

"She is in pretty good spirits, still strong and hopefully all fine from here, but long road to recovery I think," Rapley said.

The attack came a month after two fatal shark attacks in Australia. A spearfisherman was killed off of Queensland Australia’s Fraser Island on July 4, and a surfer was killed at Wooli Beach in New South Wales on July 11, according to the International Shark Attack File. A woman was also killed by a great white shark in Maine last month in the first recorded shark-related fatality in the state.