Shark Attack Victim Only Realised He Lost His Leg When He Saw It Floating Away

by : Emily Brown on : 25 Sep 2021 12:14
Shark Attack Victim Only Realised He Lost His Leg When He Saw It Floating Away@mikecoots/Instagram

A shark attack victim has revealed that he didn’t immediately realise he’d lost his leg as he recalled the terrifying encounter.

Hawaii-born and raised surfer Mike Coots was targeted by the tiger shark while out in the sea with friends in 1997, when he was just 18 years old.


Recalling the scene on the Shark Stories podcast, Coots explained he was paddling for a wave, his fingertips brushing the surface of the water when the shark appeared beneath him.

As Coots paddled, the shark grabbed his leg and started ‘rag dolling’ him back and forth in the water.

He explained, ‘I knew I was getting attacked because it was very visual. I could see everything happening… And I just felt this immense pressure.’


Coots described feeling as though ‘maybe 20 Hawaiian guys’ were sitting on his leg at the same time, but that he felt ‘zero pain’. In a bid to escape the attack, the surfer described punching the shark ‘right on the nose’, after which it let go and disappeared back into the ocean.

Immediately after the ordeal, Coots looked over to his friend, who was ‘completely white’ with his eyes ‘popping out of his head’, but the surfer focused on getting himself back to dry land.

Per the Daily Star, he said:


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.

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

Up until this point, it seems Coots hadn’t focused too much on the damage the shark had done in biting his leg, but he knew something was wrong when he ‘felt this weird spasm’ in his limb.

He said, ‘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.’

Tiger shark (Alamy)Alamy

Coots recalled seeing ‘huge squirts of blood’, as if in a Hollywood movie, but still he managed to make it back to shore where his friends quickly rushed to help him.

The surfer had to spend a month in hospital as a result of the attack and he has since received a prosthetic limb, however his experience did not diminish his love of the sea, and he soon returned to the water and continues to defend sharks as ‘beautiful’ creatures.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: Animals, Hawaii, Now, shark attack, Sharks


Daily Star
  1. Daily Star

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