Sat. Sep 26th, 2020

Aussie surfer hero takes on shark to save his wife

When Mark Rapley saw his wife being attacked by a juvenile great white, he paddled over, jumped onto the shark and punched it.

aussie surfer hero takes on shark to save his wife - Aussie surfer hero takes on shark to save his wife

An Australian surfer is being hailed as a hero after he jumped from his board onto a shark that was attacking his wife and repeatedly punched its head until it let her go.

The woman suffered deep wounds to her calf and thigh and was airlifted to hospital for surgery. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Shark attacked and held her by the leg

The drama unfolded on Saturday morning at Port Macquarie, a town about 380km north of Sydney.

Mark Rapley was surfing with his 35-year-old wife Chantelle Doyle when a shark, later identified as a juvenile great white, attacked her and held onto her leg.

As she struggled to free herself, Rapley puddled over on his board and jumped onto the shark, hitting it repeatedly until it let go and swam away.

‘Anyone would have done it,’ says hero

He and other beach-goers then helped her to shore, where she was treated by local paramedics and later flown to hospital.

As local media rushed to label him a hero, Rapley said he “did what anyone would have done. The shark was latched on to her leg. I just jumped into the water.”

71993662 mark rapley surfer shark hero - Aussie surfer hero takes on shark to save his wife
Photo credit: Screengrab, Channel 9 News, Australia

But others begged to disagree. “If he hadn’t put his own life at risk, [the shark] would have been strong enough to take her out to sea,” witness Jed Toohey told the Guardian Australia newspaper.

Hailed as ‘tremendous act of bravery’

Steven Pearce, Chief Executive of the Surf Life Saving body for the state of New South Wales, said it was 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, into an area where you know there is a large shark, I think is amazing.”

There have been five fatal shark attacks in Australian waters so far this year.

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