IT TOOK 300 stitches and seven hours of surgery to reconstruct Shane Nyari's hand after he was bitten by a two-metre bull shark.
The shark locked onto the 36-year-old commercial fisherman's hand after he dragged it into his dory about 100 nautical miles out to sea, between Mackay and Townsville.
“He was eyeing me off,” Mr Nyari said.
“And when he got me he locked his jaw and I had to wait about five minutes before he unlocked it and I could rip my hand out.
“The pain was terrible.
“He bit me twice and started eating my hand.
“Then he got lock-jaw for about five minutes and I couldn't do anything at all. I was stuck there in my dory.
“When he finally went to have a third bite I ripped my hand out and wrapped it up in my shirt.
“I even had some of its teeth left in my hand.
“I was able to throw it overboard and get back to my skipper and get help.”
Mr Nyari took off his shirt and wrapped up his mangled hand. Because his thumb had not been bitten off, he was able to stay on the boat.
“It took eight hours to get to the nearest hospital, in Townsville.
Mr Nyari spent two days in hospital. It took about 240 internal micro-stitches and another 40 to 60 external stitches to reconstruct his hand. Now, a month or so later, he still gets pins and needles in his hand and has trouble gripping some things.
The story of his dramatic injury only came to light when he failed to appear in court in Mackay for a minor offence. He sent a note to the court explaining that he couldn't get there because he was still recovering from the shark bite.
Mr Nyari was a fisherman aboard the Ina Mary and said he had been fishing for coral trout when he looked through a “view bucket” and saw two big sharks and a barracuda underneath his dory. He decided to catch the shark first, so he could then catch the coral trout without the shark taking them as he reeled them in.
He lawfully caught the first shark and hauled it into his dory and had been trying to get the hook out of it when it sank its teeth into his hand.
He said sharks were becoming too numerous on the reefs and suggested that they should be culled.
“They've taken over out there,” he said. “They've got big and vicious now.
“On some reefs you pull up and there are 20 to 30 sharks around and they're very aggressive. I've been fishing for 20 years now and there are a lot more sharks out there than ever.
“I reckon fishermen should be able to cull them out. The sharks are eating our fish and they're eating our livelihood.”
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