Hero snorkeller 'grabbed shark's tail' to stop attack
FOUGHT BACK: Dive instructor Elyse Frankcom, left, with her sister Samantha. She was mauled by a 3m great white shark while snorkelling off Garden Island but managed to punch it on the nose. Source: PerthNow
RELUCTANT HERO: A man, believed to have heroically grabbed the attacking shark by the tail, leaves the jetty at Rockingham. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: PerthNow
MIRACLE ESCAPE: Dive instructor Elyse Frankcom has fought off a 3m great white shark while snorkelling off Garden Island. Source: PerthNow
A COURAGEOUS man has been hailed a hero after he pulled the tail of a shark as it savaged a young tour guide on a snorkelling expedition near Rockingham.
Rescuers praised the man's brave actions, saying they had undoubtedly saved the woman from suffering further injuries in the jaws of the ocean predator, believed to be a 3m great white shark.
Nineteen-year-old Elyse Frankcom had been hosting a swim-with-the-dolphins tour for Rockingham Wild Encounters when the shark bit into her hip and left buttock at 12.30pm.
Late Saturday night Miss Frankcom was in a stable condition in Royal Perth Hospital, where she had undergone surgery.
The attack occurred off the north end of Garden Island Naval Base.
It comes only 10 weeks after Busselton surfer Nick Edwards was killed by a great white off Gracetown in WA's South-West.
And the attack happened in an area just 35km north of Port Kennedy, where father-of-three Brian Guest was mauled to death while snorkelling with his son in December 2008.
The hero calmly walked off the tour boat when it returned to shore and was too modest to stop for a media interview.
``All I want is the girl to be okay,'' he said.
Recovering in Royal Perth Hospital
Ms Frankcom was recovering in Royal Perth Hospital.
Her older sister, Samantha, said doctors initially said she would not require surgery.
``Elyse is in high spirits. She should be okay to leave hospital tomorrow,'' she said.
Samantha said her younger sister would definitely return to the water, despite the brush with death.
``She loves the water. You can't tear her away from it,'' she told The Sunday Times.
``This won't scare her away. She will definitely go back. It's been a passion for her since she was a child.''
The 19-year-old diver recently commented on shark attacks on her Facebook page.
``If I get attacked or die, at least I die happy and doin (sic) the thing I love,'' she said.
Her parents formerly operated a scuba diving business in Mandurah.
``My sister was training to become a `dolphin girl' for the dive tours,'' Samantha Frankcom said.
``Her job would be to find the dolphins and bring them to the surface for people to swim with.''
Rescuer praised 'hero' who grabbed shark's tail
Fremantle Sea Rescue senior skipper Frank Pisani, one of the first rescuers on scene, said the shark attack could
have been fatal if not for the heroics of one of the male passengers.
``As the shark bit her, it brushed aside a fairly large male who grabbed hold of the tail of the shark, which then made it let go,'' Mr Pisani said.
``The girl then started to sink to the bottom and he grabbed her and brought her to the surface and got her back on board the boat. He certainly was instrumental in making this a good outcome.''
Mr Pisani said there was a paramedic on the boat, but no first-aid equipment, so sea rescue volunteers worked to stabilise Ms Frankcom.
``We used all our first-aid equipment and did all we could to stem the bleeding before the RAC rescue helicopter arrived,'' he said.
``There were very deep puncture wounds, quite wide but there was no actual loss of flesh.''
Ms Frankcom was taken to HMAS Stirling base, where she was treated by naval medics before being airlifted to RPH.
Rescuers said Ms Frankcom, who remained conscious after the attack, told dive boat operators and first-aiders that she believed the shark was a great white.
It is understood Ms Frankcom is a videographer and tour guide with Rockingham Wild Encounters, which operates the Apollo 3 charter.
Rockingham Wild Encounters operations director Aaron Heath said Ms Frankcom was one of two crew members who were wearing shark shields, which are designed to repel attacks using electronic impulses.
She had recently praised the shields on her Facebook page, saying: ``The ocean is a beautiful place and you feel so much safer knowing one genius was able to invent an incredible piece of technology to help enjoy it with more peace.''
Mr Heath said the actions of the guest in distracting the shark were nothing short of amazing.
``They've been swimming in quite shallow water about 7m of water. They had two dolphins right by Elyse's side and we believe this shark has come in from the bottom and grabbed hold of her,'' he said.
Mr Heath said that Elyse was more worried about a child in the diving group than her own safety.
``Apparently, she was also bragging that she punched the shark in the nose,'' he said.
Thirty-three people, including three children, were on board at the time.
As the group disembarked, one of the passengers said: ``It was a bit scary at the time but we're just glad everyone is OK''. Other passengers were too distressed to comment.
Children boating at the nearby Cruising Yacht Club of WA were evacuated from the water and news of the shark attack spread. Water police warned swimmers and boaties that a shark had been lurking.
Water Police operations supervisor Lou Hynd said two water police boats had been working the area one dealing with the victim and another warning people around Garden and Carnac islands about the attack.
Mr Hynd said it appeared Ms Frankcom had just duck-dived down and a shark, about 3m long, bit into her left buttock. She was conscious the whole time, he said.
Department of Fisheries regional manager Tony Cappelluti said aerial searches would be conducted to find the shark and fisheries vessels would remain on standby today.
``As we know these animals can move fairly large distances in a short amount of time so unless we re-sight them from the air, running around in boats may not be too productive,'' Mr Cappelluti said.
``We know that from experience, even though they are up close, they're very hard to see because of the angle and the sun and the glare.''
``In an hour they could be quite a distance away, a few kilometres or even tens of kilometres - 2km or 3km an hour so they could be over 70km away in a 24-hour period.''http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western ... 5945532991