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The Surfer Who Fought a Shark on TV Donates Huge Sum to Fellow Surfer Who Got Mauled

2 minute read

Australian surfing champ Mick Fanning knows how fortunate he is to have escaped a shark attack unscathed, which is why he donated just under $55,000 (or $75,000 in Australian currency) to a fellow surfer who wasn’t as lucky.

The sum is the entire television appearance fee Fanning earned from his recent interview with Australia’s Channel Nine show 60 Minutes, and he is giving it to Matthew Lee, the Guardian reports. Lee, 32, had to undergo surgery on both legs after being mauled by a great white shark in waters near the Australian town of Ballina last month.

Three-time world champion Fanning knows that risk better than most after narrowly escaping not one, but two shark attacks recently. The 34-year-old had to punch away a shark that attacked him during a televised competition in South Africa, and was then forced to scramble to safety after spotting another of the oceanic predators in his New South Wales hometown while shooting the 60 Minutes segment the following week — his first time back in the water after the first attack.

Lee’s family thanked Fanning and Channel Nine chief executive David Gyngell — who pledged a further $25,000 for the injured surfer’s treatment — in a statement posted on Facebook.

“Mick Fanning and David Gyngell,” the statement read. “No words can describe how grateful we are for the generous donation.”


Three Shark Photographers You Need to Follow

Credit: Thomas P. Peschak/www.thomaspeschak.com
The water column is a three-dimensional habitat for sharks. Instead of traveling horizontally across the ocean, many species, like blacktip sharks, bounce up and down, repeatedly descending and ascending through the water column, in hopes of picking up any signs of prey. Aliwal Shoal, South Africa.Thomas P. Peschak
Credit: Thomas P. Peschak/www.thomaspeschak.com
A Red Sea Silky Shark. To survive in the vastness of the open ocean, Silky sharks rely on their boldness and curiosity to investigate every opportunity that might yield a meal. Sharks make up for their lack of hands to investigate things, with thousands of tiny pores, called the Ampullae of Lorenzini, which line the shark’s snout. Northern Red Sea.Thomas P. Peschak
Credit: Thomas P. Peschak/www.thomaspeschak.com
The whale shark is the world’s largest fish, born with unique spotted skin patterns, which don’t change significantly as the animal ages. Scientists are using the latest in space technology developed by NASA, for fingerprinting and identifying whale sharks based on their spots. In this image scientists from the conservation NGO Manta Trust are measuring a sub-adult whale shark in Baa Atoll, Maldives.Thomas P. Peschak
Credit: Thomas P. Peschak/www.thomaspeschak.com
Bronze Whaler sharks are the most abundant sharks during the sardine run off South Africa’s east coast every June/July. Hundreds of them patrol the margins of baitballs and charge into the seething mass of fish singly or in small groups to feed.Thomas P. Peschak
Credit: Thomas P. Peschak/www.thomaspeschak.com
Shark fins are the key ingredient of shark fin a soup, a dish frequenlty consumed at weddings and banquets in China. It is primarily served to demonstrate wealth and honor guests.Thomas P. Peschak
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Head and gills of Juvenile Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna Lewini), Kane'ohe Bay, Hawaii - Pacific Ocean.Jeff Rotman
Spiny Dogfish Shark
Close-up of Spiny Dogfish Shark (Squalus acanthias) born prematurely with egg sac attached. New England, North AtlanticJeff Rotman
Gills of a Lemon Shark at night
Gills of a Lemon Shark at night.Jeff Rotman
Eye of Whitetip Reef Shark
Eye of Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus), Cocos Island, Costa Rica - Pacific Ocean.Jeff Rotman
Caribbean Reef Shark
Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezi). Bahamas, Caribbean Sea.Jeff Rotman
An image of Mike Coots taken by his friend Juan Oliphant as they are swimming surrounded by sharks.©JuanOliphant/@Juansharks
Mike Coots “hangs out” with a great white. As he is frequently asked if he is afraid to go back to the water after the attack, Coots has no doubt: “I am positive I was attacked as mistaken identity and the last couple of days [swimming with the sharks] really reiterated the point. Humans are not sharks' prey.”Mike Coots
While babysitting his 6-year-old nephew, the little boy showed the toys to Coots. "It's you uncle Mike," he said. Mike Coots
Coots has been able to return to surf after the shark attack, wearing a prosthesis for his right leg. Coots was just a teenager when a tiger shark attacked him in the deep water of Kauai, an area known to be populated by sharks. Mike Coots
Coots took this photograph with Hero3, a waterproof camera. He observed the white shark being hesitant before eating its meal. “Incredibly beautiful to watch and I never felt threatened once. Completely serene,” Coots wrote on his Instagram feed. Mike Coots

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Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com