“A shark attack has been the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.” says Mike Coots, a surfer who lost his right leg in a shark attack. When Mike was 17 and surfing the waves off his home in Kauai he had a life-threatening encounter with a tiger shark. He fought off the shark but not before it took his lower leg. After months in hospital and recovery he was fitted with a prosthetic. Through it all Mike had one goal: to get back into the ocean. We could not have picked a more inspiring story than Mike’s to kick off Shark Awareness Day July 14 followed by a Week of Shark Events, see below.
Shark Attack Survivor gets back in the water
“That was really all I knew. It was my life,” he said. “I remember the first time getting back in the water, it was actually pretty close to where I got bit. I remember jumping in the ocean, and it felt glorious.”
Mike now 32, has discovered that his experience, not only changed his life, but opened up a world of opportunities. He combines his two great passions surfing and photography with shark conservation, plus he is now a spokesman for amputee surfing and pushing the limits of prosthetic technology. (photo – ntnews.com.au)
“I love the ocean so much; I feel compelled to do something,” Coots said. As an advocate for shark conservation Coots has traveled to the United Nations and the U.S. Capitol, becoming active in the effort to pass a ban on the possession and sale of shark fins— the first such ban in the U.S.
Mike holds no hard feelings about the shark that bit him. “I really have just come to terms that I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. They just do what they do.”
National Geo and Discovery Channel Face Off over Sharks
We have an entire week of shark events on the Nat Geo and Discovery Channels, kicking off with “an event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before” with good reason. On July 23, Discovery Channel presents a swim-off between Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and a great white shark, see: Shark Week, Phelps vs Great White if you dare. On a not so different note follow the many Shark Fest events on Nat Geo including their own Ryan Lochte vs Jaws.
Brian Skerry, Nat Geo Shark Photos
Plus there is an exhibit of terrific shark photos by Nat Geo photographer Brian Skerry at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.. the show will run until October 15, 2017.
M/Y Sharkwater Launches July 27 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
In honor of the late filmmaker, Rob Stewart, Fins Attached has named their research vessel SHARKWATER. After the christening the M/Y Sharkwater, a 133 foot (41 metre) vessel will depart on her maiden voyage to conduct shark research and continue the production of Stewart’s film Sharkwater Extinction. Stewart’s family and friends will be in attendance at the ceremony to see Rob’s work continued through this partnership with Fins Attached. The vessel was acquired through the efforts of individuals who shared Stewart’s passion for saving sharks and the oceans.
You can help to fund the Sharkwater voyage and its research, learn more here. Find out more about Sharkwater Extinction the movie.
U.S. Postal Service Launches Shark Stamp
A great white shark is featured on one of five stamps dedicated to sharks. National Geographic states sharks have remained essentially unchanged for 400 million years and while they can be dangerous apex predators, they play a crucial roll in the ocean’s food chain. The National Aquarium, adds that in 2013 there were only 10 shark-related human fatalities, worldwide, compared to 100 million sharks that are killed annually.
Shark Awareness Day Events Spread Around the World
In Hong Kong, artists are raising awareness of the diminishing numbers of sharks with an exhibit: On Sharks and Humanity.
The focus of the 36 internationally known artists is to say no to shark slaughter for soup. Experts agree that worldwide,100 million sharks are slaughtered annually, the majority killed for their fins, an ingredient in shark fin soup. A delicacy enjoyed in Hong Kong and China that can cost up to $200 per bowl in Asian restaurants.
“The exhibition fully embodies the ideals, beliefs and actions of the artists in their commitment towards protecting sharks,” said the curator of the event, Huang Du. The Hong Kong show follows on similar exhibits around the world including in Beijing and Moscow. (photo – Parkview-Arts)
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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