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Shark attack victim only realised he’d lost a leg when he saw it floating away

A surfer has remembered the details of a horrific shark attack, which left him spraying blood from the limb where his leg used to be.

Mike Coots was only 18 when he was brutally attacked in a shark attack while out surfing in Hawaii with his friends.

Mike was left paralysed for his entire life. However, he refused to lose his passion and returned to water within weeks.

He spoke about the terrifying encounter in 1997 on the Shark Stories podcast, saying: “I knew I was getting attacked because it was very visual. It was very visual. I could see everything.

“It was when I started paddling for that wave and I remember my fingertips brushing the surface of the water and as soon as that happened, a large tiger shark came up from underneath, grabbed onto my leg, and started rag dolling me back and forth.

“And I just felt this immense pressure. Zero pain – it’s crazy, like no pain whatsoever. It felt like twenty Hawaiian men were sitting on one leg.



Mike Coots
Mike Coots was 18 and surfing in Hawaii when a tiger shark tore off his leg

The surfer explained that he was forced to fight the shark off in order to escape its powerful hold on his lower body.

“As soon as it stopped, its jaws started articulating again and it tried to get a better grip of my legs,” he continued. “I punched it a couple of times with my left hand right on the nose, and it let go and it sank right back beneath the waterline.”

As he struggled to get back on his board, Mike remembered seeing his friend next to him, “completely white” and with his eyes “popping out of his head”, before quickly turning and paddling back to shore.

He claimed that he only noticed the loss of his leg after looking back and seeing it disappearing.



A shark attack
Mike remembered seeing “huge squirts of blood” from his limb after the attack was over

“I remember looking at my index finger, and it was split open like a potato, there was blood everywhere, I could see my bone through my finger”, he recalled.

“I guess I had subconsciously dipped my hand into its mouth to get my legs out, and that obviously didn’t work.

“I felt this weird spasm in my limb, and I thought it was the shark coming to finish me off, but I looked over my shoulder and it wasn’t that, it was my leg severed off completely.

Remembering what he had seen in further detail, Mike said: “I remember that very visually, these huge squirts of blood… it was like out of Hollywood, my guess is 10 foot squirts”



Mike Coots
Despite his injuries, Mike is a staunch shark conservationist and continues to photograph sharks to this day

Eventually, Mike made it to the beach where his friends rushed to his aid, before being fitted with a prosthetic leg and spending a month in hospital.

The incident was not a major trauma for the Hawaiian, who continues to photograph sharks and is a strong conservationist.

Explaining why his love for sharks wasn’t hindered by the incident, he claimed: “They’re one of the last wild, crazy beautiful things left on Earth,

“Without them, our oceans wouldn’t be oceans.”

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Shark attack victim only realised he'd lost a leg when he saw it floating away
Anurag Reddy
I'm a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, travel and nature photographer, Computer Science graduate, and Mass Communication student. I have seen different shades of life through traveling and lived different lives through reading. With every word I write, I travel within, and I understand myself better. Writing helps me discover myself, and that paved roads for me to choose writing as a profession.
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