PERTH, Australia - An Australian received a bravery award on Monday for grabbing a 12-foot great white shark by the tail as it mauled a snorkeler.
Trevor Burns, 50, earned the Star of Courage for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril by grappling with the shark and then rescuing its victim, Elyse Frankcom, off the southwest coast town of Rockingham in 2010.
Frankcom was a 19-year-old guide showing dolphins to a group of a dozen tourist snorkelers including Burns when the shark clamped her thighs in its jaws.
Burns said Frankcom was only an arm's length away, but he quickly lost sight of her in a cloud of blood.
"I just thought: 'Get it off her,' " the Burns said Monday.
Burns said he clung to the tail for several seconds despite its violent thrashing before the shark released Frankcom and swam away.
Frankcom received surgery and more than 200 stitches to her leg wounds but has now largely recovered from her injuries. She and Burns remain in contact.