THE Sydney woman and her husband, who fought off a shark in an attack at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie last month, have set up a crowd funding campaign to help save the species and protect Australia's oceans.
Chantelle Doyle, 35, a botanist and environmental scientist, hopes to turn her near-death experience into a public awareness campaign about the importance of healthy marine ecosystems.
Chantelle was surfing with her partner Mark Rapley at the popular Port Macquarie beach with two other surfers on August 15 when, in an instant, her life changed.
She has recounted in media interviews the moment she was thrown into the air from her surfboard and seconds later, was in the mouth of 2-3 metre juvenile great white.
The shark ripped at her calf and thigh while Mark punched the animal repeatedly in the eyes forcing it to release it grip.
Mark described the encounter as terrifying but instinct kicked in ultimately saving his wife's life.
"It was like punching a ball of muscle," Mark said.
Chantelle has undergone three major surgeries to repair the damage and this week, will undergo a second attempt at a skin graft.
The success of the surgery is not likely to be fully known for at least two years, she said, adding her focus is to now concentrate on the challenges her long road to recovery will bring.
It will be hard work, but true to her dedication to the environment, Chantelle says rather than demonise sharks, we should be celebrating the ocean's diversity. Healthy fish numbers in our oceans means our marine environment is thriving.
"We have received a lot of interest and generous offers of support following our shark encounter," Chantelle said in launching her fundraising campaign for the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
"Yes, the story is true and scary and will mean big life changes while recovering."
The couple hope the funds can help the organisation continue its important work in protecting ocean health.
"If you would like to offer up some support, we would encourage you to make a small donation to the Australian Marine Conservation Society who combine science and conservation to promote ocean health. Healthy oceans mean a better future for everyone and that relies on apex predators - sharks."
Twitter is not normally personal but this is important.— Chon Doyle (@saltandbrine) August 21, 2020
Last Saturday we had close shark encounter. Many people wanted to help, but at the moment we are all fairly powerless. We set up #PunchingForHealthyOceans with @AustMarConsSoc instead. https://t.co/nXVgP6VQ9gpic.twitter.com/TPIewTTrYH
Mark publicly thanked two local surfers and the beachgoers who came to help Chantelle and applied first aid before emergency services arrived. Every second counted in ensuring the "love of his life" could be saved.
"Thank you to the two other surfers - Jed and Mark - who came to our aid, paddling with us into shore as well as the team on the beach who applied a tourniquet and carried Chon 700m on a surfboard stretcher to reach the ambulance," Mark said.
"Many thanks to the incredible medical teams involved in the emergency rescue, repair and recovery.
"Australia is blessed with both selfless and immensely skilled professionals.
"Along with its great people, Australia is blessed with extraordinary wildlife and diversity, which we should be proud of conserving."
The campaign has already raised more than $9,000 towards its $15,000 target.
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