She was mauled by a juvenile great white shark and left with extensive injuries to her leg. Now Chantelle Doyle is using her time in the spotlight to crowdfund, and the recipient is an unlikely source.
It was a rare day off for Chantelle Doyle, who was surfing with her partner, Mark Rapley, when she was attacked by a great white shark off Shelly Beach at Port Macquarie, NSW.
The attack took place on August 15, and the mother-of-one still vividly remembers the moment she was thrown into the air.
“I knew it was a shark as I was coming to hit the water, and as I hit the water it got me instantaneously,” she told Insight.
Doyle managed to get back on her board, but the 2.5m juvenile great white had grabbed hold of her leg, and wasn’t letting go. It wasn’t until Rapley paddled over and began punching it in the head that they were able to free Doyle’s leg from the shark’s jaw.
With the help of her partner, and local surfers, Doyle paddled back into shore where she was given first aid and then taken to hospital. She’s lucky to be alive, but the damage to her leg is severe.
“So pretty much everything on my leg except for my artery was impacted; bones, muscles, ligament, tendon, cartilage, and nerves.”
“So effectively I'm paralysed from the knee down.”
While doctors were able to save her leg, she’s been warned that amputation may still be possible if it doesn’t heal correctly.
Yet despite her near death experience, Doyle’s mind was immediately elsewhere when she came out of surgery.
“One of the first things I said was like ‘get me the shark scientist from the New South Wales department of Primary Industries, because I needed to understand [what happened]’.”
While still recovering from her physical, and psychological injuries, Doyle is simultaneously using this opportunity to support the predator that almost killed her.
“I thought we can either hide and you know, avoid the media attention, or we can use this as an opportunity to do something good.”
“I think the best good that can come from it is to say that we care about our planet. We want diverse oceans and diverse oceans actually mean sharks because without those top order predators you just don't have the fish or the marine life that, I mean even if you don't care about diverse sharks, you probably like seafood.”
The pair want to see measures put in place around the world that keep both humans and sharks safe.
“For us, is the best good that can come from this right now.”