The personal effect of her attack, however, has been long lasting. While she got back onto a surfboard within six months of her attack and went “shark mad”, plastering her bedroom walls with pictures of the animals, she says her passion for surfing gradually ebbed away.
“I’d be fine and then I’d get this weird feeling and start looking around,” she explains. “I never had that before – I was a water baby and loved the water. Now I am scared of it. I used to think sharks were cool, but now I am terrified of them, although I still [have] respect for them.”
Her shark posters have gone, as has her enjoyment of the sea. Instead she tends to prefer swimming or kayaking on rivers. But she still has the occasional nightmare about sharks.
Pearson says this is a common problem in shark attack victims.
“Many of them never fully recover and the psychological scars can be even greater than the physical ones,” he says. “I started getting dreams and would wake up screaming at night. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist to help me get over this.”
Mighall still has the surfboard she was riding on the day of her attack, a huge toothy bite missing from one side. Like the scars on her leg, it is a reminder of what can happen on the rare occasions that sharks do choose to attack the humans who stray into their domain.
They both entitle her to fear these animals. For those who fear them without having had such a close encounter she has a sound piece of advice.
“If you are frightened, you can always stay out of the water.”