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9 Amazing People Who Survived Shark Attacks

Even though these men and women were attacked by sharks, they're definitely not victims. Here are their incredible stories of survival — and to learn more about the sea's most dangerous animal, watch Shark Week on Discovery, with all new episodes starting Sunday, August 4th at 9/8C.

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1. Achmat Hassiem

Lulama Zenzile/Gallo Images / Getty Images

Hasseim was training to be a lifeguard in 2006 at Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town when a great white shark severed part of his right leg. After the accident, he took up swimming at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, and has competed in both the 2008 Summer Paralympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics. He imagines sharks chasing him when he swims.

2. Elliot Paerata-Reid

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In December of 2006, 10-year-old Elliot first thought the shadow below him in New Zealand's Manu Bay was a rock, and only realized he'd been bitten by a shark when he saw blood pouring out of his foot. Once Elliot's father noticed what happened, he paddled his son in towards shore and rushed him to the hospital for stitches. Elliot now spends his time competing in various surfing championships.

3. Martin Richardson

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Richardson was bonding with dolphins in the Red Sea in 1996 when a shark swam up and bit into his left arm. He punched the animal to break free but once released, the shark attacked again and this time, took a chunk out of it. To Richardson's surprise and relief, the dolphins formed a circle around him for protection... and even stayed with him until help arrived.

4. Andrew Carter


One of the many details Andrew Carter remembers about the day he was attacked by a great white in 1994 off the coast of South Africa was that the animal's jaws seemed "four or five feet long." He also remembers being bitten in half "like a sandwich," and having to shove his surfboard into the creature's mouth before it was convinced to swim away. He then, quite literally, surfed back to shore and got help.

5. Matt Bowen

Bournemouth News/Rex/Rex USA

Matt believed the shock of pressure he felt on his leg off the coast of Australia in 2009 was just his scuba diving partner playing a prank on him. But instead of looking down and seeing his pal, he found a 10-foot-long bull shark clinging to his calf muscle. His (real) friend swam over and began kicking the animal to get it to loosen its grip. Amazingly, the experience "hasn't put [Matt] off sharks or going in the sea."

6. Paul De Gelder

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Paul De Gelder was participating in an anti-terrorism diving exercise for the Australian navy in 2009 when a bull shark off the coast of Australia's Garden Island attacked him and bit off his right arm and right leg. He had to punch the shark several times to break free. But a mere 24 hours after his leg was fully amputated, he was back in the gym.

7. Andrew Lindop

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In 2009, Andrew thought the splashing noises coming from behind him in the waters of Australia's Avalon Beach were just from his father goofing off...but unfortunately, he was very wrong. Within seconds, a shark had taken Andrew's left thigh and calf in its mouth. Andrew's father was able to free him and push him into a wave that was headed towards the shore. During his recovery, Andrew said the attack wouldn't be enough to keep him out of the water for good.

8. Hannah Mighall

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Hannah and her cousin Syb were surfing in Tasmania's Binalong Bay in 2009 when a great white shark bit into her leg and dragged her underwater...twice. Realizing there was no time to panic, Syb paddled over and hit the shark on the head to get it to release its grip. Hannah and her cousin told reporters that "[the shark] just did what it what it instinctively thought to do," and that the ordeal hasn't dissuaded her from becoming a marine biologist.

9. Bethany Hamilton

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Bethany's morning surf in 2003 took a turn for the worse when a tiger shark about 15-feet-long swam up to her, latched on to her left arm and severed it below the shoulder. Her best friend's father used the surfboard's leash to make a tourniquet, but by the time Bethany reached the hospital, she had lost 60% of her blood and was in a hypovolemic shock. She went on to make a full recovery and has continued to surf professionally.