Shark Bite Survivor Fights For Conservation

Kent Bonde lost his calf --and nearly his life -- to a shark bite, but he is dedicated to protecting the species

Kent Bonde lost his calf to a bull shark, but doesn't call it an attack. The diver of 35 years prefers the term "accident," thanks.

"It's not a pre-meditated thing," emphasizes Bonde, who shares his story and his scar in order to further conservation efforts for the ocean's most feared predators. "We are so much more of a threat to them than they are to us."

Ten years ago, he nearly died while spear fishing off the coast of the Bahamas.

As Bonde wrangled a struggling fish, a seven-and-a-half foot bull shark removed his calf in a bite that came from behind. "It spun me around."

Bonde was about 100 yards from his radio-less boat, in severe pain and bleeding out into the water. Adrenalin and his wife helped him swim back to the boat while Bonde could only hope the shark would not attack again.

His wife and a third diver, a friend from Australia, helped administer first aid while they headed for help, which was two-and-a-half miles away. Their combined medical training kept him alive.

"Everything we did was pretty much credited with not only saving my life but saving my leg," he says.

Despite the bite -- and six weeks of painful skin grafts -- Bonde is a member of advocacy collective Shark Survivors for Sharks.

Though they all nearly lost their lives and several lost limbs, the group are decidated to the conservation of the animals who caused their injuries.

"[If] you take that top apex predator out of the picture, other apex predators and mid-level predators rise to the occasion," he says. "You start creating huge imbalances underwater."

Not only does the Miami Shores resident educate the masses about the misconception that sharks prey on humans, he's also lobbied in Washington for legislation to protect sharks.

In January, President Obama signed into law the Shark Conservation Act. It strengthens and protects shark conservation off our country's coast and in international waters.

Another victory: since 2000, shark finning, the practice of cutting off a shark's fin and discarding the carcass, has been banned in the United States.

Meanwhile, Bonde is still diving, showcasing a spirit of survival and a fierce dedication to protecting sharks. Through sharing his near-death experience, he inspires other divers, swimmers, and fishermen to live.

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