Great White sneaks up on prey in pictures taken by Hawaiian surfer who lost his leg in shark attack

A Hawaiian surfer who lost his leg in a shark attack has cheated death again as he photographed a Great White emerging from the depths of the ocean and swimming towards him as it tried to eat a shoal of mackerel.

Mike Coots, 43, took a series of fascinating photographs of the Great White sharks swimming just yards away from him in the waters off the coast of Guadalupe Island, Mexico. 

One incredible photograph shows one of the sharks sneaking up on its prey from behind, as the fish panicked and tried to swim away from the predator.

Coots, despite losing his right leg in an attack by a tiger shark when he was 18-years-old, stayed firm and managed to picture the shark as it launched its attack.

One incredible - but also horrifying - photograph shows one of the sharks sneaking up on its prey from behind, as the fish panicked and tried to swim away from the predator

One incredible – but also horrifying – photograph shows one of the sharks sneaking up on its prey from behind, as the fish panicked and tried to swim away from the predator

Mike Coots, 43, took a series of fascinating photographs of the Great White sharks swimming just yards away from him in the waters off the coast of Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Mike Coots, 43, took a series of fascinating photographs of the Great White sharks swimming just yards away from him in the waters off the coast of Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Other photographs taken by Coots shows great white sharks emerging from the depths of the ocean, with the shards of sunlight lighting up the sharks' bodies

Other photographs taken by Coots shows great white sharks emerging from the depths of the ocean, with the shards of sunlight lighting up the sharks’ bodies

‘I was was photographing white sharks in a shark cage and this shark had just missed taking a bite of a chunk of tuna,’ said Coots. 

He added: ‘This photo shows both the beauty and brawn of such a powerful creature. It’s like you are looking at a living dinosaur.

‘You can feel its energy, and their eyes have the most incredible depth to them and shade of blue in them.

Mike Coots, 43, took a series of fascinating photographs of the Great White sharks swimming just yards away from him despite him losing his leg after a tiger shark attacked him when he was 17-years-old in 1997

Mike Coots, 43, took a series of fascinating photographs of the Great White sharks swimming just yards away from him despite him losing his leg after a tiger shark attacked him when he was 17-years-old in 1997 

‘You can sense their brain is processing who you are, and can feel that energy. Its awe-inspiring.’

Other photographs taken by Coots shows great white sharks emerging from the depths of the ocean, with the shards of sunlight lighting up the sharks’ bodies.

The 1997 shark attack in Kauai, Hawaii, that left Coots with one leg has done nothing to diminish his love for the ocean. 

Not only has Coots continued surfing after the tragedy using a prosthetic limb, but he has become an activist campaigning for the conservation of sharks.

‘I lost my leg to a tiger shark surfing when I was 18,’ said Coots. ‘I have since become a staunch advocate for their protection and use my imagery and power of social media to share why they are important in the ocean and also how beautiful they are.

‘You often get so wrapped up in both the photographic process and the being in the presence of such large animals you often forget exactly the moments you capture.

‘It isn’t until you download them on your computer and see what you got that can leave you speechless.’

He added: ‘I hope people see something uniquely different in my images. I studied shooting people at art school and use the same techniques and lens as I would shooting a person.

‘I look for moments of expression, and love how the light refracts in their eyes.

‘I think if you can see a little of yourself in these photographs, it might inspire you to learn more about them and in turn help protect them.

‘We need sharks for a healthy planet as they play a indispensable role in the marine ecosystem.’

Coots, despite losing his right leg in an attack by a tiger shark when he was 18-years-old, stayed firm and managed to picture the shark as it swam towards him with its jaw open

Coots, despite losing his right leg in an attack by a tiger shark when he was 18-years-old, stayed firm and managed to picture the shark as it swam towards him with its jaw open

Other photographs taken by Coots shows great white sharks emerging from the depths of the ocean, with the shards of sunlight lighting up the sharks' white underbelly

Other photographs taken by Coots shows great white sharks emerging from the depths of the ocean, with the shards of sunlight lighting up the sharks' white underbelly

Other photographs taken by Coots shows great white sharks emerging from the depths of the ocean, with the shards of sunlight lighting up the sharks’ white underbelly

 

The great white shark is known for its impressive size, growing to over 20 feet in length and weighing around 5,000 pounds.

They can reach speeds of 16 miles per hour for short bursts and swim to depths of 3,900 feet.

Several years ago, Coots was approached by the Pew Environment Group asking him to join a campaign aimed at putting a stop to shark finning. 

In his capacity as an ambassador for the organization, Coots has traveled to the United Nations and the U.S. Capitol to speak in favor of shark conservation. In 2010, his efforts came to fruition when Hawaii became the first state in the nation to pass a ban on possession and sale of shark fins.

Coots’ chilling story of survival has been told many times in the decades after the attack, including in a Discovery Channel documentary titled Shark Fight that premiered in 2012 to mark the 25th anniversary of the network’s popular Shark Week. 

In October 1997, then 18-year-old Coots was bodyboarding at Major’s Bay on Kauai’s west side when suddenly a tiger shark surprised him, swimming up from the deep ‘like a submarine’ and plunging its razor-sharp serrated teeth into his right leg.

The startled teenager repeatedly punched the fish in the head until finally it released his limb and swam away, the Huffington Post reported in 2012.

Coots and a surfer friend who was with him at the time began to paddle back to shore when the teen felt a spasm in his right leg and realized that the shark had severed his foot with almost surgical precision.

A semi-conscious Coots was loaded into a pickup truck and rushed to a local hospital.

As he lay in the rear of the vehicle, he recalled seeing blood gushing from his wound and spilling out of the tailgate like a waterfall.

Doctors were able to save his life, but Coots ended up losing his right leg at the calf. The teen, however, was so relieved to have survived the terrifying ordeal that he felt blessed rather than angry.

While recovering from his injury, Coots developed a passion for photography, which he later turned into a successful career.

Once back on his feet, Coots returned to the ocean without a moment’s hesitation. He chose to surf for the first time since the attack not far from the spot where he was bitten.

‘I remember the first time getting back in the water… I remember jumping in the ocean, and it felt glorious,’ he told the site.

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