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Paratrooper ‘thought he was going to die’ when shark ripped off his limbs in terrifying attack

Paratrooper ‘thought he was going to die’ when shark ripped off his limbs in terrifying attack

Despite almost losing his life in the attack he is now an advocate for sharks

A former paratrooper thought he was going to die after he was viciously savaged by a 50-stone shark that tore off his arm and leg.

Paul de Gelder, 46, from Melbourne, Australia, was doing a routine military exercise with the Australian Navy at Sydney Harbour in February 2009 when the terrifying attack happened.

In an interview with CNN, he said: “I was swimming from point A to point B on the surface on my back and a 10-foot bull shark came up from underneath me.

"It grabbed me by the back of my right leg and my right hand, which was by my side, all in one bite."

The veteran said he had initially tried to launch a counterattack, hitting out at the shark with his left hand.

"That's when it started to shake me like a rag doll,” he said.

"As its teeth worked through my flesh and bone like saws, I was overcome by the most intense pain imaginable."

Paul recalled how he desperately swam back to the rescue boat, while blood poured from his leg after the shark had torn away most of his right leg, leaving him feeling that he wasn’t going to make it.

Paul feared for his life during the attack.
CBS

He added: "It took me under. The pain and the terror. I thought I was going to die. It removed my hamstring and my hand.

"I had to swim back to my safety boat with one hand and leg through a pool of my own blood. I didn't think I was going to make it.

“I'm very, very lucky and blessed to still be here and breathing today."

The former paratrooper had to spend three months in rehabilitation following the attack, but - somewhat incredibly - was able to return to work in the navy.

He lost an arm and a leg in the attack.
CBS

In 2012, Paul was offered the chance to speak publicly about the incident and has since become a motivational speaker.

And, despite almost losing his life that day, Paul has now become an advocate for sharks.

He said: "I see my role as speaking up for an animal that doesn't have a voice.

"I figure if someone like me who has almost lost their life and two limbs to a shark can understand why they are so important and why they need to be saved, then maybe everyone else should be able to as well."

He has also written a book, No Time for Fear: How a Shark Attack Survivor Beat the Odds, in which he opens up about his recovery.

Featured Image Credit: George Karbus/Getty Images/CNN

Topics: Australia, Sharks, Shark Attacks