A Sydney woman who was bitten by a shark at a Port Macquarie beach says going back home will be the most challenging part of the recovery process.

Key points:

  • Chantelle Doyle was surfing off Shelly Beach at Port Macquarie when she was bitten on the leg by a 2.5 metre great white shark
  • After three surgeries Ms Doyle, who is a mother, says returning home will be the hardest part of her recovery
  • Ms Doyle and her husband, who punched the shark, have launched a crowd-funding campaign for the Australian Conservation Society

Chantelle Doyle, 35, was bitten on the leg by a 2.5-metre juvenile great white shark while surfing off Shelley Beach two weeks ago.

She escaped after her partner, Mark Rapley, fought off the shark by punching it in the face.

The mother of one remains in hospital and is unsure when she will be able to return home.

“The hardest part is when I come home,” Ms Doyle said.

Ms Doyle has already undergone three major surgeries and hopes today’s will be her last.

A second skin graft will be taken to attempt to repair the bite after the first graft failed.

If the graft takes, she hopes to begin rehab next week.

“I’ve got quite a lot of nerve damage,” Ms Doyle said.

Ms Doyle said it would be at least two years before doctors determined if the surgeries had been successful.

“I’m just going to be as proactive as I can about aiming for the best-case scenario,” she said.

“We want a healthy ecosystem,” Ms Doyle sayd. “And that includes the shark.”(AAP: ScreenWest)

‘Punching for Healthy Oceans’

Despite being only the beginning of Ms Doyle’s road to recovery, the couple is determined to use their experience to raise awareness for shark conservation.

“We’re not suddenly shark evangelists,” Ms Doyle said.

“We appreciate the complexity of our natural systems and want to support that.”

Ms Doyle who is a botanist and environmental scientist, refers to the incident as an “encounter” rather than an “attack”, and said the experience got her wondering about the state of the world’s oceans.

“I thought, ‘Do [sharks] have enough food in the ocean?'”

The couple want to use the encounter to advocate for healthy oceans, and have set up a fundraiser for the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

“It’s not very often that you have the opportunity to collectively make a lot of small actions have a bigger impact,” Ms Doyle said.

“Looking after our natural world is going to rely on everybody making those small actions.”

The campaign, Punching for Healthy Oceans, has raised almost $10,000 of its $15,000 target.


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