People wonder why shark attack victims would push for such protections. In 2004, a shark severed my Achilles tendon while I was wading off Florida's east coast. Luckily, I recovered, but some of my friends lost limbs and suffered severe disfigurements. Krishna Thompson, a New York banker, and Al Brenneka, head of the Shark Attack Survivors support group, nearly died and lost a leg and arm, respectively. Mike Coots, of Hawaii, has returned to the water and surfs with a prosthetic leg. We all chose to see our attackers not as vicious killing machines but as vital members of the marine ecosystem.
We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So we looked beyond our own personal losses and realized we are in a unique position to be advocates for sharks.
As part of Pew's global shark conservation campaign (www.pewsharks.org), nine of us traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby our Senators to back shark finning legislation. We successfully persuaded many Senators to support our efforts and to date the Senate bill has about 20 co-sponsors.