Shark Attack Survivors Save Sharks

Ten people who were attacked by sharks have joined together to advocate for the conservation of sharks species, which are threatened by human practices such as finning and overfishing. An estimated 73 million sharks are killed each year just by finning, which removes the fins and leaves the severely injured sharks to die. Sharks typically kill less than 100 humans each year globally.

As a shark attack survivor herself, Debbie Salamone decided people who were bitten by sharks could be good advocates for shark conservation, because of the expectation they would be negative towards sharks. She started up the campaign with the Pew Environment Group, and said getting the others who were attacked by sharks to join in the effort wasn’t difficult.

One of the other campaigners, Paul de Gelder, who lost a hand and lower leg when he was attacked while conducting training for the Navy asked, “Do we have the right to drive any animal to the brink of extinction before any action is taken?” (Source: New York Times)

Nine of the survivors met with officials at the United Nations to raise awareness about the large numbers of shark species on the verge of extinction.

One of the shark attack survivors, Yann Perras, said, “Even if the movie ‘Jaws’ has scared entire generations, we have to remember that it is only fiction. This animal is, like people, at the top of the food chain. We absolutely cannot accept fishing practices that menace the natural balance of the ocean environment.” (Source: His leg was severed when a shark bit him while he windsurfed off the coast of Venezuela.

Here is a list of the shark attack survivors and conservationists:

Achmat Hassiem – South Africa
Paul de Gelder – Australia
James Elliott – U.K.
Yann Perras – France
Vincent Motais de Narbonne – Réunion (French territory in the Indian Ocean)
Debbie Salamone – U.S. (Florida)
Chuck Anderson – U.S. (Alabama)
Mike Coots – U.S. (Hawaii)
Krishna Thompson – U.S. (New York)

These people are not only conservation advocates, they are examples of how foregiveness can heal ourselves and our relationships with the natural world. Some people might cling to an attitude of vengeance towards sharks, which were merely acting in a natural manner looking for food when they bit the people. An mp3 audio file of their press conference was recorded.

The Pew Shark conservation site provides some data about shark losses, “Over the last 200 years, iconic species in the Mediterranean Sea such as the smooth hammerhead, shortfin mako, porbeagle, and thresher sharks have decreased by more than 97 percent in number and catch weight.” It is thought about thirty percent of shark species are in danger of extinction.

Incidentally, the author of Jaws – both the book and screenplay – was Peter Benchley, and he became a shark conservationist partly because of all the damage done to shark populations after the impact of the movie.

He said, “Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today. “Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.” (Source: LA Times)

Image Credit: Suneko

Related Links:
Pacific Basking Sharks in Dramatic Decline
Top 5 Endangered Sharks

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Emily Drew
Emily Drew3 years ago

They are an inspiration!

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege3 years ago


Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.3 years ago


Valentina R.
Valentina R.3 years ago

Kudos to these mature individuals. The brutal killing of sharks must end.

Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Pendragon3 years ago

Makes me cringe just looking at that video pic, never mind watching the video. Poor creatures! Kudos to all those people who stand up for sharks after being attacked by them, a wonderful effort! :)

Linda Gilbert
Gregory Gilbert3 years ago

In assessing danger few people have any sense of probabilities. The number of people in the world killed by sharks every year is miniscule. Now the drive to the beach is something else.

I have had sharks swim by me while bobbing in the swells beyond the surf which I thought was pretty cool.

If we are going to use animals for food, the least we can do is use the entire animal.

The use of shark fins and other animal products in a medicinal context is the dark side of "traditional medicine."

Karen Emanuelson
Karen E.4 years ago

As long as people in Asia demand shark fin soup, this will continue. Just like the demand for animal body parts from endangered species to make "traditional Chinese viagra" to sell at huge profits to people in Asia.

Tanyaisa P.
Tanyaisa P.4 years ago

this says alot for the human's ability for compassion, educating oneself, and realizing that when you are in the animals territory, it can happen. so good on you guys and get well soon.

Tina Scislow
Tina Scislow5 years ago

While I must confess to be absolutely frightened by them, sharks that is, have had nightmares with them, this is a lesson in itself. It has to do with turning around and not holding regrets nor grudges. It has to do with turning the other cheek as it were. We need to learn from these people and help those who have harmed us in some way. We have to remember that God shines his love on everyone, not only on us.
I wonder what the world would be like if we were all, myself included, so noble.

Cat Neshine
Cat N.5 years ago

We are far more dangerous to sharks then they are to us.