Ep 263: Living life beyond fear with shark attack survivor Paul De Gelder

Paul De Gelder is a former naval clearance diver whom after a horrific shark attack which saw him lose his right forearm and right leg, has since become a high-profile shark conservationist, author, actor, motivational speaker and advocate for a plant-based diet. 

A former Brisbane boy, he found incredible success in the military. First with the Australian Army and then with the Navy - until in February 2009, while testing some new technology in Sydney Harbour right by the naval base next to the opera house, he was attacked by a bull shark - an attack that nearly killed him. 

Paul has described feeling a whack on the leg, looking down and seeing a bull shark, two rows of 36 razor sharp teeth, locked on to his upper right thigh. He tried to push the shark away when he realised that his right hand was also in the shark’s mouth as it was literally eating him alive, all the while dragging him deeper underwater. 

Suddenly the shark was gone, and Paul’s wetsuit was buoyant enough to bring him back to the surface where he managed to swim back to the safety boat. 

Multiple complicated surgeries, months of painful rehab and sheer determination later - Paul returned to the Navy as a diving instructor, this time with a prosthetic arm and leg. 

Paul’s story is one that rightly has inspired millions around the world, who now know him as one of the faces of the international cultural phenomenon “Shark Week”, where he’s routinely back underwater, back face to face with nature’s apex predators. 

I can’t get enough of this guy. He’s a testament to acceptance of a situation beyond your control, then adapting and living your fullest life with your new parameters. Paul’s such an inspiring man, a beacon of showing how strength and compassion coexist within one person.  

He’s also a man who’s mental fortitude is one I aspire to, his outlook on life is something that I wish to emulate. 

If you have Instagram I’d highly suggest following him there - @pauldegelder. 

In fact just the other day he posted something that I wanted to share with you. 

"Probably the biggest reason I never slid into depression is because I found value and purpose. I lost a lot. But instead of bitching about it I found ways to fill those holes with a whole new set of skills and a whole new life. No PTSD, no nightmares, never a flashback. The struggle doesn’t weaken us, it forges us into a stronger more durable tool to improve the lives of those around us. That’s value and purpose.”

He’s an incredible guy, I am stoked for you to meet him. 

So if you will, come to my kitchen where you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea with this absolutely remarkable man, the one and only Paul De Gelder. 

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