FYS 006 | Shark Attack

006: Shark Attack Victim Mike Coots

FYS 006 | Shark Attack

 

I live in Hermosa Beach, California and I go down to the surf all the time and see fins bobbing up and down. I always think about, “This must be a great white shark or something.” I interviewed a guy named who lives in Kauai and was attacked by a tiger shark about ten years ago or more. This is a fascinating story. The shark literally took his leg off. We walk through it. We go back through the whole trauma. He’s 300 yards off the shore of Kauai and gets attacked by this massive fifteen-foot tiger shark. This is just an amazing story of coming back and he’s got such a positive attitude about the way he approaches life and it’s really uplifting. We all think we have challenges in life and if you can imagine having that kind of trauma come at you, you lose a limb and keep going and actually go back and create a foundation around supporting the life of sharks.

Listen to the podcast here:

Shark Attack Victim Mike Coots

This interview is very fascinating for me because how often do you talk to a guy that’s been attacked by a shark? In this case, Mike Coots, that’s what happened to him. Mike, welcome to the show.

Aloha.

I’ve been to Hawaii a lot of times, 25, 30 times in my life. I live in Hermosa Beach and I go down and often you’re out and I see fins going up and down in the water. The first thing that I always react to is it’s a shark. Most of the time, there are always dolphins playing in the water but I just can’t imagine. You grew up over in Hawaii in the island of Kauai, surfing, and you must have been very comfortable in that environment just to start with, right?

Yeah. We’re basically a little tiny island surrounded by a lot of water so you learn really fast if the ocean wants to be your friend. It can be something that can teach you a lot of lessons and it can be your breadbox. It can be your way to have dinner at night via fishing and things like that. You really become connected with the ocean early on growing up in a little island.

FYS 006 | Shark Attack

Shark Attack: You really become connected with the ocean early on growing up in a little island.

Let’s go back and start to go through all this. I did some research on this whole thing, the story was just fascinating. It’s just like, “I’ve got to talk to this guy.” This happened to you at a relatively young age, right?

Correct. I was right out of high school, eighteen years old at the time.

During that time, you’re a product of your environment. I grew up in Seattle so I’m out on the playground all the time with my buddies playing football, it’s raining and you’re doing things like that. Certainly not in the water like the way you would be, or at least up there it’s Lake Washington and it’s freshwater so no sharks up there. You must have grown up either surfing or body surfing or boogie boarding or one of those things?

Yeah. I started boogie boarding when I must have been three or four years old and it became a daily thing day in and day out. As soon as school finished, it was begging the parents to get to the beach as fast as we could so that we could spend the afternoon until dark boogie boarding. Seven days a week, it was boogie board, boogie board, boogie board.

It’s like daily in the water, super comfortable, out and about. It must have just been awesome to grow up in that environment.

It was a dream-like childhood for sure to just be so much time in the water. On your mind, it’s just getting tubed and having fun in the ocean with your friends. Literally, my life was the ocean.

Now, you’re in high school. How old are you? Fourteen or fifteen years old?

I started really getting into competitive bodyboarding at about fifteen. It was pretty big at that time in Hawaii. We had a lot of contests. I just had high hopes of this as soon as I graduated high school turning pro. A lot of my friends were professionals. I had a coach at the time and did a bit of traveling for events. I wanted to be a professional boogie boarder. That was my career goal, that was the end-all. Everything in my life was wrapped up in bodyboarding and boogie boarding.

Let’s lead now into the day when all this went down. You’re boogie boarding. How far off-shore were you?

We were about300 yards offshore. It’s a sandbar that hits a reef-patch area, and we were in maybe 30 feet of water. It was a sunrise session. We had a long summer where we really get too many waves, and this was the fall after that summer and it was actually our first really good swell. We pulled up to the beach and I was with my coach. We opened the car doors and smelled a really stinky dead-fish smell, really foul. Because the waves were so good and it was such a long summer of no surf, it was the stinkiest thing I had ever smelled, but that wasn’t stopping us.

Where was that from?

In retrospect, it might have been some shrimp that died off that hit the ocean and caused some fish in the area to die off because of the extra amount of shrimp in the water. I really don’t know. It was this really foul, stinky smell. To this day, I have not smelled anything that bad in my life.

Generally speaking, does that bring more sharks to the area?

Yeah. I would suggest in hindsight if you pull up to the beach and something feels off, your senses and you’re just, “This doesn’t smell right. This doesn’t feel right,” use that as an indicator to not paddle out. Some of the surf was so good and you’re just frothing as a kid, you’re out there no matter what.

From my standpoint, I wouldn’t paddle out far out anyhow. That’s just my own thing. You’re 300 yards offshore, it’s this day, you go out, there’s this bad smell in the air, it could be shrimp or whatever that is. How long had you been out there before all this goes down?

It would have been maybe five, eight minutes tops. I paddled out with five buddies or so. Right off the bat within ten seconds or literally the first set that came in, they all got great rides. I was sitting next to a stranger, somebody I hadn’t surfed with before. This really beautiful wave came in and it felt like a longer time than it was, just watching all my friends get these really good runs on the inside. I was like, “This wave is mine.” I looked at him and he looked at me. You don’t want to share a wave with a fellow surfer. I signaled my dominance by creating action like paddling first to signal that, “This is my wave and I want this wave.” As soon as my fingertips brushed the surface of the water to let him know that this was my wave, a large tiger shark came up from underneath me and latched onto my legs. It was just him and myself and all my friends were very inside, and I was basically getting attacked by a shark. It was a surreal moment. I was maybe playing another character in a movie, like it wasn’t really happening to me but I was watching it happen. It became this fight or flight moment. It started ragdolling me back and forth.

I can remember it was 1974, my mom took me to this outdoor theater one night. They used to be popular and that’s the year, I’m not sure, when Jaws came out. The way you traditionally think about these things is they’re on the surface, you can see the fin, and they’re coming at you and they open. I think I read that this thing came up like a submarine, right?

Correct. You don’t hear the Jaws music cueing. You don’t see the dorsal fin from 100 yards away getting bigger and bigger as it gets closer to you. It was a complete blindsided attack and that’s the nature of sharks. That’s what they do, that’s the element of surprise. They’re not going to dance their way into the scene and do some whistles. They come in and that’s what they do. It completely got me blindsided. Out of nowhere, right underneath me and grabbed onto me.

FYS 006 | Shark Attack

Shark Attack: It was a complete blindsided attack and that’s the nature of sharks. That’s what they do, that’s the element of surprise.

Were your legs hanging down?

Yeah. From the shark’s angle looking up, I would have looked like a turtle, hanging off the boogie board with my fins and everything up the back and my armpit side, it’s the classic turtle look. Basically, it just grabbed onto me and I felt an immense pressure. I didn’t feel any pain or anything like that. Within a split second, its jaws were basically in my legs.

You’ve got this massive tiger shark. As you now are basically in this thing, your leg is in his mouth, your other leg is not in his mouth, right?

It probably was half in its mouth. My right leg I think was closer to its jaw area where there was probably a lot more torque and pressure because of the jaw closing. Both my feet; I have pretty bad scars on my left foot so obviously that foot would have been at some point in its mouth.

You’ve essentially got his whole mouth and jaws and everything right in your chest, because you’re bent over and you’re trying to fight this thing off?

Exactly. I remember just being this really square and very wide massive nose shoved right into my chest. I started taking both my hands. I remember distinctly trying to grab on the both corners of its nose and push it away from my chest like this complete, “Get away from me.” The only thing that can really hurt us in Hawaii beside sharks is centipedes. When I see them, the hairs stand up on my arms, and you get this fight or flight, “Get away from me” feel. I remember distinctively that feeling, just whatever I’ve got to do to get this thing away from me. I just was really trying to hold out the corners of its nose, and it was a good-sized shark. I remember distinctively how very wide the nose is.

How many feet do you think this thing was?

I would say about twelve to fifteen feet long via just the width of its nose. It was square as a nice hardwood dining table, perfectly square and wide, just like that.

Because you grew up in Hawaii, you knew this was a tiger shark versus a great white?

Yeah. I knew exactly what it was. It wasn’t a dolphin on its side or a turtle or this or that or something else. It was very square and this is a very intimate attack. It was right up to me and it was obvious I was getting attacked by a large tiger shark.

What’s the bio of a tiger shark versus a great white or some of these other ones? Are they known as being very aggressive or was it out of character or what?

There are little similarities in sharks that they’re opportunistic feeders. They’ll take something that’s an easy source of protein. White sharks have been known to get a little bit more out of the water and they can use that impact of coming from the deep really fast and breaching the surface and knocking out its prey. Where tiger sharks because they bite a lot more turtles, they’re a little bit more cautious. They do come up pretty fast but they have finesse. I believe they prey a little bit more. Their eyes will roll back. They have a membrane that will flip out for safety for their eyes when they’re attacking. I’ve seen both attack diving with sharks and watching them attack prey and they’re a little different. I think tiger sharks to an extent can be a little more cautious.

Out here in Manhattan in Hermosa Beach, we’ve got quite a few great whites. The babies are ten feet or whatever. You’ll be out stand-up paddling, they’re swimming underneath you. We call them The Man in the Gray Suit. Anything with teeth and they like to eat is not a friend of mine. Now, you’re thrashing back and forth your classic shark that’s going at you.

I was trying to push it away from my chest. As I’m doing that, it started ragdolling me back and forth like a dog would with some meat. I remember this violent shake left to right, left to right, and it was right there when I was like, “This pushing away isn’t working.” I started swinging it with my left hand right on its nose. I think I gave it a good two to three punches, and it just let go. Just like that, all the pressure released. I got right back onto my board. I was back on the surface of the water and the shark just disappeared. As fast as it came, it was gone just as fast. I got back on my bodyboard. At first, I looked at the guy that I paddle-battled with and his eyes were out of his head like crazy. I remember he was ghost white, he didn’t say a word and I yelled, “Shark, go in.” Obviously, he’s just saw a shark attack in front of his eyes and knew what was happening. I didn’t know what else to say and he started paddling in really fast. I got repositioned on my bodyboard. I looked at my index finger and my index finger was split open. I remember seeing a bone and I have never been up to that point of hurt that bad in my life. Blood was everywhere. I was like, “My finger, my finger.” I started getting in as fast as I could, and I started paddling behind him. As I’m paddling, my right leg starts doing this weird spasm like an uncontrollable shake. It starts wiggling out and vibrating back and forth. I can’t see it because you’re paddling in a prone position, it’s behind you. I thought, “This is it. The shark is finishing me off.” I looked over my shoulder as I was paddling in and it wasn’t the shark, it was my leg completely severed off.

Where was it severed?

Right halfway up the shin, just perfectly cut off.

Your calf area, right?

Yeah. I remember it squirting all blood every time. I saw three good squirts. I’m talking eight to ten foot of blood squirting like a fire hydrant coming out. I was like, “This really isn’t good.” Luckily, a little wave came right there and I rolled off my stomach and right up to the sand and didn’t really have the time to think of what just happened. Everything was just really fast. I tried to stand up as soon as I got up to the sand’s edge and without a foot you can’t stand. I remember falling over and rolling down this little dune a little bit with sand and covered in blood and sand and all this stuff. My friends on the inside, they saw what was happening and they ran up to me. I had a friend, Kyle, who’s really quick thinking and the first thing he did was grab my board and took my leash and made a tourniquet within seconds, very clear thinking. I literally had been on the beach for four seconds and I basically had a tourniquet already on me. Then they dragged me up a little higher and I remembered him saying a prayer for me. As Kyle was praying, I got this wave of calm come over me that if I were to die, I thought I was going to die, it would be okay. It wasn’t scary. It wasn’t like I was scared of dying. It’s so much different than you would think in a shark attack movie or what goes on in Jaws.

FYS 006 | Shark Attack

Shark Attack: It wasn’t like I was scared of dying. It’s so much different than you would think in a shark attack movie or what goes on in Jaws.

How many people were on the beach?

There would have been about six to eight people. They’re all around me in a circle and Kyle’s leading the prayer and I just had my eyes closed. I remember him saying a couple things in the prayer. I opened my eyes when he said amen and there was a pickup truck right there. This guy, Keith, had seen everything happening from the lookout and threw his truck, knew something was wrong with all the commotion and everything, and some people might have been waving their hands in the air and stuff. He threw his truck in four-wheel drive and basically off-roaded down into the sand and rode on the sand as fast as he could right up to us. They lifted me on the back of his truck, they had the tailgate down and I just laid back there in the prone position on my back. He took off in seconds. It was perfectly choreographed.

He started taking off to the hospital. Nobody really thought to jump in the back of the pickup truck with me. Keith was in the front driving and it was just myself lying in the back of the truck with six surfboards, probably his most prized surfboards, and now they’re covered in blood. I was honestly more scared of the car ride because we were going so dang fast than my injuries. We were bouncing all around. We finally got onto the main road and I started going into shock. I remember feeling really hot to really cold back to really hot back to really cold, this over and over weird feeling that I’ve never had before. It was a bit surreal. I didn’t want to look at my missing leg or the injuries of my other leg or even the injuries of my hand, so I started playing with the board bag on one of the surfboards. It was made of this cloth-like material and I started playing with it with my fingers just to keep my mind off of looking at everything else.

I do remember glancing though. We passed a mother and daughter going to school. This would have been 7:30 in the morning and I think everybody was on their way to school. You know you can tell the extent of your injuries by the reaction of others. I remember looking at their faces and they look like they’re going to throw up, just seeing all this blood gushing out the back and then I was back to the paddle board bag and I can’t look at anybody. I can’t look at my injuries. I just concentrated on this board bag. It was about a ten-minute car ride from the sand to the emergency room. We pulled up right to the ER. I remember the doors of the ER opened up and I think a couple of nurses and a doctor ran out. As soon as the doctor ran up and put his arm on my shoulder, my body just gave out. I think my eyes closed and it was just lights out. I woke up in this weird state maybe 45 minutes later or so in that small local hospital explaining how big the shark was and that it was a shark that attacked me, and my body gave out again. It was a good 24 hours. I woke up in our main hospital post-surgery with my family and a lot of my close friends all around me.

You’re pals with Bethany Hamilton. I remember in the movie, Soul Surfer, which was crazy because I have two daughters and to be the parent of daughters where something bad has happened, it just took me to that place. The way you just described, you come into the beach, all your pals come over, they put the tourniquet on, the guy does the four-wheel drive over the sand, comes picks you up, and now it’s just a race like you’re in Indianapolis 500 trying to get back to the hospital. It just reminded me of that whole scene playing out when they get her out of the water, a little bit different, but it’s just craziness. The way that they plotted it out in the movie with the music, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. You got severely wounded, are you going to bleed out? You’re the guy that got attacked but everybody else has all this uncertainty and just trying to get you to the hospital. Where were your parents in this whole chain? Obviously they weren’t there but when did they get to the hospital?

My mom was a bank manager and got a phone call from somebody at the hospital saying that I was severely hurt from surfing. My mom’s biggest fear has always been when we boogie board, there’s a lot of shallow sandbars. The first thing she thought was I broke my neck. The doctor was like, “He lost his leg to a tiger shark.” I think my mom had a sigh of relief for some reason. She just really had this fear that I was going to break my neck and I think losing my leg, to her, was just something else. She was like, “We’ll get through this.” My sister, she was at high school, when the teacher came up and told her, she started bawling. In retrospect, just how hard that must have been on my family. To me, I would have been tougher than me for my own personal injuries and things and how it affects your family. When I woke up in our main hospital, I remember it was a real somber moment like I came out of this fog. It was really quiet all around me and my mother was like, “Should I tell him?” The doctor’s like, “I can tell him.” My mom’s like, “I’ll tell him. Mike, you lost your leg in a shark attack.” I was like, “I know. I saw it come off. I know I lost my leg.” I think as soon as I knew that and my family knew that, it was just like this real uplifting moment. Everybody was like, “You’re alive,” and hugs and kisses and everything like that. I think it must have been a hard time having my mother know that when I wake up from this that she’s going to have to tell me that I’m missing a limb. That must have been a grueling 12 or 24 hours or whatever it was for her.

There are a lot of things going on in my mind. I was down in Africa in Tanzania climbing Kilimanjaro with a bunch of NFL guys and Green Berets, Marines, and two of them were amputees. One was Kirstie Ennis. She is an above-the-knee amputee. Then there was another guy, Peter, who had a bullet go through his calf. It sounds like similar to you. There were fourteen of us something like that that climbed Kilimanjaro and they made it to the top. The word I was told is that the game changer is if you lose a limb like that, below the knee, the stability of that kneecap really helping you dig in and do different things that you want to do and when it’s above the knee, it’s just a different deal.

I work with a lot of above-the-knee and below-the-knee amputees and you can see the range of motion. It’s having that ankle being able to talk to your knee. They’re such crucial joints. Having them talk together when you take a step and this part of the flex needs to work with this part of the knee and the ankle. It becomes exponentially more difficult to do things when you’re missing a knee for sure. Fortunately, technology is getting there where we get some really good microprocessor knees that can communicate really good with your prosthetic ankle to know exactly what to do. It is an exciting time if you’re an above-the-knee amputee because there are emerging technologies coming out like crazy. Pretty soon, you’re going to be able to have a really good walk and basically do everything that a below-the-knee amputee can do.

FYS 006 | Shark Attack

Shark Attack: It is an exciting time if you’re an above-the-knee amputee because there are emerging technologies coming out like crazy.

You are pals with Bethany. When she was attacked, I think I read that you were actually there at her bedside, right?

Yeah, I got a phone call from her brother.

Had you already been attacked? You’d already gone through this whole thing?

Yeah, this was about six years later after my attack. Her family and my family were close family friends. I grew up surfing with her and I was really close to her brother. One morning, I got a phone call from her brother and he was obviously very panicked and in tears and hyperventilating, “My sister just got attacked by a shark and I don’t know if she’s going to make it.” That was a tough phone call to get, a phone call that you never want to get. I remember hanging up the phone and saying a little prayer and heard the ambulance go by. I heard more sirens than I think I’ve ever heard and knew that that was her in the ambulance. I got into my truck and drove to the hospital.

It was basically the same thing. She was 12 to 24 hours completely out while they did the surgery and cleaned up the wound and everything. I spent some time with her and her family and friends in the hospital. I was in her hospital and I was next to her bedside in her room. Somebody had to go out, her brother had to go out, her parents were downstairs. The nurse stepped out for a second and she started getting conscious and waking up from all this. As she opened her eyes, it was just her and I. It was pretty surreal. I was the first person right there as she came out of this fog. I remember telling her that it was going to be okay and everything is going to be all right and she didn’t seem upset. There was no sorrow. I think she was just genuinely happy to be alive, just the sweet little girl, very pale but coming to. It was really a moment that maybe there’s somebody higher up that put me there at that time for that to happen.

I personally don’t know you but I’ve read your story and if movie is any depiction of the way she really is, you both seem to be glass half full, very positive. You look on the brighter side of things. Nobody would blame anybody just being attacked by shark and being upset with the world, “Why this happened to me,” and go through that. You didn’t sound like you played the blame game. You’re just more like, “I want to go seize opportunities and be positive and see this as something that I can turn into something positive.” It’s just great.

I think it’s also the nature of just spending both of us day in and day out our childhood in the water. It wasn’t like we went as a family vacation to the beach and I stuck my toes in the water and the shark came out and grabbed me. We have spent our entire lives in the ocean and you just know sharks, that’s what they do. That’s their home. We’re in their backyards for half of our lives but that’s their home and that’s where they live 24/7. I think for both of us that’s in the back of our minds that that’s how the ocean works.

How many years ago was this for you? This happened to you in 1997?

Correct. I was eighteen at the time, so that was nineteen years ago. I spent more than half of my life as an amputee and a shark attack survivor.

You continue to live in Kauai?

Correct.

There was a post or something that you made. I don’t know how this could have been a post because we weren’t posting back then. It says that as you’re coming to consciousness, you didn’t blame anybody, you’re thankful to be alive. The bottom line is very positive about your state and going forward and you’re going turn this into positive.

I have a really strong family support. I had the community that completely came with open arms and really helped me out. I had a guy visit me really early on with a prosthetic leg, the second day that I was in the hospital. That was a defining moment for me just knowing that there’s a future with prosthetics and that I’ll be able to walk again and get back in the water. I’ve been very fortunate. I haven’t had any PTSD, no bad dreams. It’s been a bit of a surreal experience. In retrospect, it’s been the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. Just the life experiences and the opportunities and the people that I’ve been able to meet and the stories I’ve been able to share. Everybody’s got something that happens to them and mine’s very visual and it’s there. I’ve got a prosthetic. There are people that you walk by everyday and got something you don’t see in there, struggling with something. We’ve all got something and that’s just the nature of being humans. We’ve just got to figure out ways around it. I think as humans, we are very good at adapting too and adapting during difficult times.

FYS 006 | Shark Attack

Shark Attack: As humans, we are very good at adapting too and adapting during difficult times.

The name of this podcast is Finding Your Summit and that’s really all about overcoming things, and you said it perfectly. We all have things that hit us at some point in time, and I’ve had a lot of knocks on me. I’ve fallen off the horse many times. Of course it’s always about getting back on top of that horse and being valiant on, “I’m not going to let this slow me down. I’m not going to be turned back by this. I’m going to keep going and turn that thing into a positive.” Congratulations to you on that. You just have the right attitude and so much of this is mentally, where do you want to put your focus? Do you want that to be positive or negative or do you want to carry this around as a chip on your shoulder? It just isn’t going to move the ball down the field. On that note, I want to talk about this project that you’re involved in, . Tell us a little bit more about what that is all about.

It’s a surfboard fin system that you put on your board. It’s a personal statement saying that, “If I got this fin system on my board and I get attacked by a shark and heaven forbid I don’t make it, my wish is to that the local government of wherever I was surfing when that attacked happened, to not cull the sharks after the attack.” There’s been a spike of shark attacks worldwide. In some places like Australia, the government has this pressure to do something about it. A lot of that is called culling, and that’s basically removing or fishing for a shark in that area to basically kill it and try to remove that threat. Science has shown that it doesn’t work. I believe personally it’s a barbaric knee-jerk reaction. You’re not coexisting. The science says it doesn’t work because sharks move at such great distances over periods of time that by the time you put those hooks out, you’re not going to get that same shark. Just on a principle that we’re in the oceans, and that’s not for us to do anyways.

We’re losing shark stocks like crazy worldwide, and they play an invaluable role in our marine ecosystem as an apex predator. We really are starting with science to see the invaluable role that sharks play in our oceans. They have been around for hundreds of millions of years, they predate the dinosaurs, survived these mass extinctions that everything else on Earth basically got wiped out and sharks survived. I really strongly feel that they’re here for a reason and that they have survived through all this as an important part of our marine ecosystem. At the very top, they remove the sick, the weak and they keep the genetics in the ocean really strong or as strong as it can be. The rate that we’re killing sharks is crazy. We’re talking upwards of a hundred million sharks a year killed. A lot of this is for their shark fins, shark oil, for vitamins, things like that. Just for us to add on such killing these top apex predators because something happened to us when we’re in the ocean, I don’t think that’s the right approach. I’m a strong believer of co-existence and to kill something because you don’t like it, that’s not coexisting together.

FYS 006 | Shark Attack

Shark Attack: To kill something because you don’t like it, that’s not coexisting together.

I’m here talking to a guy that got attacked by a tiger shark, and you’re promoting this whole movement about trying to keep them alive. The fin that you have manufactured or designed, it goes onto a surfboard or a boogie board?

It goes onto a surfboard. You sign up for registry and you’re basically saying, “If I get attacked and I don’t make it, my wish is I do not want the shark that attacked me killed.” That’s all it’s saying and it’s saying that to the government, it’s telling your family and friends you know your wish is, “This what I want.” I think it’s a powerful statement. It’s straight to the point and this is what it is.

Are you selling these now?

Yeah. You can go to FinForAFin.com. It’s a bit of play on words. It’s a catchy name. I really like it. It’s out in Australia. It’s a way of telling the government, “I want this,” but it’s also a good conversation starter when you’re at the beach and your buddies are like, “What’s up with your fin system?” You can be like, “I believe this and sharks are being decimated at this rate. They’re very important in our marine ecosystem.” It’s just a good way to have this conversation that I think needs to happen right now, especially with so many shark sightings in Southern California and shark attacks in Western Australia and Green Island. It’s a talk and a conversation that needs to happen.

So often, when we react to fear, we lash out and do something that maybe we shouldn’t do. Having an advocate like you trying to create awareness towards what’s going on is amazing. I don’t want to see sharks killed. I just don’t want to be eaten. It reminds me a little bit of the Livestrong, the Lance Armstrong when he was at his peak, you get those yellow bracelets. They sold millions of those things and they had partnerships with Nike or somebody and they just flew off the shelf. How much does this fin that you put on your surfboard cost?

It’s about $120, and it’s competitively priced with other surfboard fins. It’s made out of carbon fiber. I surf on it every day. They’re really well-made fins.

Do you plan to roll them out on all the different surf shops?

That’s our goal. We’re trying to raise money so that we can pretty much push this out worldwide and really get this to every corner of the Earth. Obviously, sharks swim to wherever water is salty, that’s where sharks are. This is not a geographically-centered campaign. This is something we want to bring to the world. That price I told you for the fin, that’s in US dollars. If you want to get it in Australia, it’s $160 for the three-fin thruster set, which is basically what other fins in the surf shop would cost.

I don’t surf but I’m fascinated with the concepts that people come up with. In your case, you’ve taken a tragedy and turned it into an opportunity to raise awareness about what’s going on. Unless people like you stand up and wave their hands and go, “This injustice is going on and we’re slaughtering all these different sharks which are key to the ecosystem,” they’ll just going to continue on doing what they’ve been doing, and it’s just not a good thing. That’s pretty amazing. You’ve got such a positive energy, a positive spirit. People are going through a tough time, you’ve gone through that. What are the core elements that got you through going through all that rehab, figuring it out and understanding that you could get back literally on your feet, and start doing things again?

I would say just not really dwell on the little things and the day-to-day things and start to have a bigger vision in your head. For me, it was to see steps. It was, “I want to get back as soon as the stitches and staples healed,” and get back in the water and having these small goals that you can build up on. Losing my limb, I had to readjust everything from learning how to drive a manual shift vehicle to walking, to hiking with family and friends. All these little things that you build on, you think, “I can’t do it or it’s going to be a struggle,” and you do that, it creates this confidence and the self-worth and you can relate that to any injury or any challenge that you have. Use it and look at it as something that would build you and make you a stronger person and just ready to take on the world. It’s really what you perceive. If you perceive these challenges as challenges, that’s what they become. If you perceive them as stepping stones to make you a better person, then that’s a better way to live.

Where can people find you?

I’m on social media. That’s probably the best way. It’s under my name, @MikeCoots. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I’ll do my best to follow you back and engage and we can share stories together.

Mike, I so appreciate it. This is awesome, it’s been incredible. We’re going to blow this out and share it with the world. I just really appreciate you sharing your time with us.

Thanks for having me, Mark. I really appreciate the chance to talk about all of this.

Thanks.

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