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Grandmother punches off shark

Monday 15 Feb 2010 9:31 p.m.

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A Sydney grandmother has told how thinking about her family gave her the strength to fight off a shark.

It latched onto her leg while she was swimming in North Queensland, and only let go because of her persistent punching.

Paddy Trumbull, 60, was attacked by a shark while snorkelling near Dent Island.

"I'm swimming and there is the most almighty huge tug at me, and I knew immediately what it was. I turned around and I saw this huge shark," Trumbull told reporters from her hospital bed just 24 hours after the attack.

She says she escaped by punching and kicking the animal after it had taken a bite out of her buttocks and legs.

"I then thought 'this shark's not going to get the better of me' and I started punching it on the nose, punching, punching, punching....The shark, we had a bit of a tug of war, and I know part of my body was ripped off at that time," she said.

Trumbull had taken a charter boat to go snorkelling with her husband, Chris, and five other people.

After beating off the shark, she was pulled into the boat by a local resort manager, Jason Johnson, who used a t-shirt as a pressure bandage on her wounds.

"Jason grabbed me and put me into the boat, I'm lying on the floor and he looks at me and I can hear 'oh my God'," Trumbull said.

When medical crews arrived, the 60-year-old had lost a substantial amount of blood.

She had to be stabilised at the scene before being airlifted by helicopter to Mackay Base Hospital where she underwent surgery.

Her doctors are surprised that she survived the attack.

"We can estimate that she lost about 40 percent of her blood volume from the degree of shock that she had when she came in, and the fact that we required to give her several units of blood," surgeon Dr Mark Flanagan told reporters.

Trumbull appeared in bright spirits as she spoke to the media on Sunday, with her husband by her bedside.

She even joked about the surgery she would require to reconstruct her buttocks.

"I think they're going to get me a counsellor on Monday, to sort of sort it out, and I have to have a new, remodelled bottom, so that's a positive," she said.

It is believed the shark was a 1.5m reef or bronze whaler, local news agencies reported.

The Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast are a popular tourist destination, with many snorkelling and dive sites.

Tourism Whitsundays said this was the first shark attack in the region for 13 years, local news agencies reported

The incident was the second shark attack in Australia this week.

On Thursday, a man was bitten in the leg at a Sydney beach and was treated for minor injuries.

APTN / 3 News

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