The Australian Navy diver who was attacked by a 10-foot shark in Sydney Harbor last week has had to have his leg amputated after already losing his hand, but said he is managing to "keep a smile on my face" despite suffering injuries which threaten his career.
Able Seaman Paul de Gelder, 31, was mauled by what was thought to have been a bull shark while taking part in a Navy training exercise in the water off the Australian naval base at Garden Island, near Woolloomoolloo in Sydney, last Wednesday.
He was taking part in an underwater trial to test new naval defense technology when he was attacked.
Able Seaman de Gelder punched the shark until it swam away, enabling him to swim to a nearby safety boat.
He was rushed to hospital, “within an inch of my life”, where he underwent emergency surgery and had his right hand amputated. Today he lost another limb.
“I will today have my right leg amputated,'' de Gelder said in a statement released through the defense department, the first time he has spoken publicly since his ordeal.
He said that the past week had been overwhelming, and he would not have survived without the support of numerous people, especially his colleagues and friends in the Navy.
“I'm looking forward to rebuilding my life and taking on the new challenges I have to face. Ultimately I would like to return to what I love – Navy diving.”
The attack on de Gelder was the first of two shark attacks in Sydney within two days. The day after he was mauled, a surfer, Glenn Orgias, was attacked by a shark at Bondi Beach — the first reported shark attack at Australia’s best-known beach in more than 80 years.