January 18, 2009 08:50am
TEENAGE shark attack survivor Hannah Mighall has told how she saw the monster rising under her moments before it struck.
"I was just sitting on my board and this big black shadow just came up at me," Hannah said of the attack last Sunday.
In that fraction of a second, the giant 5m shark bit 13-year-old Hannah's right leg as she sat waiting for a wave while surfing at Binalong Bay on Tasmania's East Coast.
Last Sunday's attack left Miss Mighall in hospital needing hundreds of internal and external stitches to repair the gashes.
Bandages now cover the wounds on her right leg, stretching from above her knee to her toes.
The incident has left the teenager physically and emotionally scarred and temporarily afraid of returning to the open water, but Miss Mighall says she holds no animosity towards the creature that nearly took her life.
Yesterday, as she lay in her bed at the Royal Hobart Hospital, she put on a brave face and tried to remember as much as she could about her ordeal.
Her memory of the incident is clouded but she said she would never forget seeing the big black shadow coming up from the deep.
Or watching it come back for her again.
"It was massive, it didn't look real," Miss Mighall said.
"It pulled away from me and I looked down and saw this black thing coming back up at me again.
"I have never seen a shark before, only on TV.
"I feel very lucky [to have escaped] because that was a big shark.
"It shocked me, it was like I was dreaming.
"I really don't remember much more about it."
Witnesses recall seeing the shark bite a huge chunk from the side of Miss Mighall's surfboard and thrashing about after latching on to her leg.
She says she can't remember too much pain.
"I couldn't really feel it," Miss Mighall said.
"There was a little bit of pain but it didn't really hurt that much. I think the shock stopped the pain."
Her cousin Syb Mundy, from Queensland, was surfing nearby and came to her rescue -- punching the shark repeatedly and trying to gouge its eyes.
After helping his cousin escape from the shark's jaws, Mr Mundy helped position Miss Mighall on his surfboard so he could help her to shore.
The shark kept coming for them but a freak wave pushed them to the safety of the beach.
"If she wasn't competent in the water, I don't know what would have happened," Mr Mundy said.
"She was definitely a hero. There wasn't any way we could have got through it if there was a weak link in our chain."
Miss Mighall is adamant she does not want people to seek revenge against her attacker.
"I don't want them to kill that shark, I want the shark to live," she said.
"I was in its territory and it didn't kill me."
Miss Mighall says it will be a while before she goes surfing in the ocean again.
"I think I might stick to the lagoon for a little bit," she said.
"I want to get back in the water, but not for a while."
Miss Mighall has been surrounded by her family since being flown to the RHH by helicopter a few hours after she was bitten.
Yesterday afternoon she moved to the Hobart Ronald McDonald House hospital accommodation facility, where doctors have urged her to stay a few days before going home to Scamander.
"They are worried about her falling down and causing more damage," her father Malcolm said.
"We are hoping to maybe go home on Tuesday."
A friend has given her a book about Bethany Hamilton, a Hawaiian surfer who became an international star when she continued board-riding after having her arm bitten off by a shark.
She says she will use it as inspiration as she recovers.
And she hasn't written off a career as a professional surfer just yet.
"It would be pretty good to go on the professional circuit," she said.
Mr Mighall said he was looking forward to taking his daughter home.
Her old surfboard, which sports a giant hole where the shark tried to bite her, will serve as a constant reminder of the attack and as a prompt to her parents about what she may want for her 14th birthday next week.
"I am going to need a new wetsuit and board," she said with a huge smile.http://www.themercury.com.au/article/20 ... -news.html