Shark attack victim is now an advocate for their protection - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Shark attack victim is now an advocate for their protection

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Mike Coots Mike Coots
Mike Coots Mike Coots
Mike Coots Mike Coots
Mike Coots Mike Coots

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KHNL) - A group of advocates converged on Capitol Hill this week, pushing for more protection for sharks.

The strange twist is, they're all survivors of shark attacks.

And one of them is a Kauai resident, who lost his lower right leg in a shark attack back in 1997.

Mike Coots was just 18 years-old back in 1997, enjoying a day in the water at Kauai's Waiokapuo Bay.

That's when tragedy suddenly struck.

Shortly after this video was shot, a shark attacked him, shredding his right foot and ankle.

Still, he felt no animosity towards the creatures.

"I don't think there's a big threat with sharks or anything. It's just, your entering the ocean and you know it's their domain," Coots told KHNL as he was about to leave the hospital.

Nearly 12 years later, Coots still feels the same.

And he's concerned about the increasing practice of "shark finning," which claims the lives of millions of sharks each year.

The fins are an Asian delicacy, usually found in shark fin soup.

"People ask me all the time, 'you must be so mad at sharks, you must hate sharks, do you want to kill sharks?' and stuff like that and you have to realize they're out there, they pre-date dinosaurs, we're in their environment and I just have no hatred whatsoever for the animal and feel they really play an important part in our environment," Coots told CNN on Thursday.

This week, he traveled to our Washington, D.C., with other shark attack victims to ask lawmakers to protect the same creatures that did them harm.

The Shark Conservation act, was passed by the House in March and is currently before the Senate.

It would strengthen a law regulating the killing of sharks, and promote conservation internationally.

Coots is now a professional surf photographer.

He wears a prosthetic foot, and continues to surf.