A man punched a 10-foot long great white shark to free his wife from its attack while the couple was surfing on the east coast of Australia on Saturday morning. Local authorities and social media users lauded the man for his actions.

The incident occurred at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, where Mark Rapley and his wife Chantelle Doyle were surfing. The young shark leaped out of the water and had Chantelle's surfboard in its mouth, a bystander told 9News.

Landing Blows to Save His Wife

The shark reportedly attacked the 35-year-old woman on her right calf and the behind her thigh. Seeing Chantelle being attacked, Mark got off his surfboard and jumped on the shark and hurled several blows on the animal until it left his wife.

Great White Shark Attack
Mark Rapley saved his wife Christine Doyle from a great shark attack. 9News/ YouTube Screen grab

"This fella paddled over and jumped off his board onto the shark and hit it to get it to release her and then assisted her back into the beach," Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Pretty full on, really heroic."

The woman was treated by paramedics and bystanders before she was flown to Port Macquarie Hospital, where she underwent surgery. Chantelle's condition was reported to be stable. "The patient suffered severe lacerations to her right leg. The bystanders on scene that rendered assistance should be commended. They did an amazing job before we arrived," Inspector Andrew Beverley, duty operations manager for Ambulance NSW, told 9News. He also said that this was the third "serious shark attack" in the region in the past few months.

Social Media Lauds Husband's Efforts

Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Pearce explained that shark activity, around this time of the year, is followed by the migration of the whales. "It has been an unusually busy period for shark encounters on the Mid North Coast," Pearce reportedly said.

He added, "This time of year, coming out of winter, that's when the whales migrate and you get more shark activity following the whales migrating." The attack prompted lifeguards to close several beaches in the area. Mark received praise on social media for saving his wife from the young shark.