In 1997, Mike Coots, an avid bodyboarder, experienced a life-altering event off the coast of Hawaii. A tiger shark attacked him, resulting in the loss of his right leg.
However, instead of developing a fear of these marine predators, Coots chose a path less traveled. He became a shark conservationist, dedicating his life to understanding and protecting these misunderstood creatures.
Coots’ journey into the world of sharks has not only been about survival but also about education. Over the past two decades, he has swum with these apex predators, learning their behaviors and understanding their instincts.
His experiences led him to develop a set of dos and don’ts for those who might encounter a shark, which he shared with MailOnline Travel.
First aid for shark attacks: If the bleeding is severe, a tourniquet may be needed, applies high and tight. Once on, it has at least 3 hours before it needs to be loosened. Keep the person still and warm. Call 000.#firstaid #wildlife #sharkattack #shark #australiawidefirstaid pic.twitter.com/P154HTbGLo
— Australia Wide First Aid (@AWFAFirstAid) October 7, 2023
According to Coots, maintaining eye contact with sharks is crucial. Sharks are ambush predators, and if they know you’re aware of their presence, it significantly reduces the risk of an attack. He also warns against turning your back on a shark, as this could provoke an attack.
Coots further advises against splashing or panicking, as these actions can make one appear like an injured animal, attracting sharks. Instead, he suggests making oneself seem large and maintaining a calm demeanor. He also points out clear visibility underwater is essential for safety when swimming with sharks.
However, Coots’ work goes beyond providing safety tips. He has dedicated his life to dispelling misconceptions about sharks. Contrary to popular belief, sharks do not seek to bite humans as soon as they enter the water.
This misconception, Coots believes, is largely due to Hollywood’s portrayal of sharks and sensationalized media coverage.
— MediaHubbz (@MediaHubbz) October 5, 2023
To counter these misconceptions, Coots has taken up photography, capturing stunning images of these majestic creatures. His photo book, ‘Shark: Portraits,’ showcases the beauty and complexity of sharks, aiming to present a new perspective to those unfamiliar with these creatures.
Coots’ work is a testament to his belief that sharks are misunderstood and essential for a healthy marine ecosystem. He hopes his efforts will help people appreciate the importance of sharks and contribute to their conservation.
Mike Coots’ story is a powerful reminder that fear should not dictate our understanding of the natural world. Instead, we should strive to learn, understand, and respect all creatures, even those we might initially fear.
His work serves as an inspiration for all of us to look beyond our fears and misconceptions, fostering a deeper appreciation for the intricate balance of life on our planet.