Im an ex-paratrooper – 50-stone shark ripped my limbs in military exercise

An ex-paratrooper has spoken out about the moment a 50-stone shark ripped his arm and leg off during a military exercise.

Paul de Gelder from Melbourne, Australia, is lucky to be alive after he suffered the horror attack while swimming in Sydney Harbour in February 2009.

The former clearance diver, 46, was performing a routine practice with the Australian Navy at the time.

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For Shark Week, he told CNN: "I was swimming from point A to point B on the surface on my back and a 10-foot bull shark came up from underneath me."

Paul then said the giant beast's teeth shredded through his limbs in one fell swoop.

"It grabbed me by the back of my right leg and my right hand, which was by my side, all in one bite."

The brave military man swam back to a rescue boat surrounded by his own blood and said he "thought he was going to die" after losing parts of his limbs.

"It took me under," he added.

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"The pain and the terror. I thought I was going to die. It removed my hamstring and my hand.

"I had to swim back to my safety boat with one hand and leg through a pool of my own blood. I didn't think I was going to make it.

"I'm very, very lucky and blessed to still be here and breathing today."

Paul previously recalled how the shark had shaken him "like a rag doll" after he tried to fight back against the attack.

"As its teeth worked through my flesh and bone like saws, I was overcome by the most intense pain imaginable," he said.

After losing his hand and hamstring Paul was forced to spend three months in rehabilitation.

But once he had recovered the double amputee returned to the Navy as a public speaker.

Now he works as a motivational speaker and, perhaps surprisingly, is an advocate for sharks.

"I see my role as speaking up for an animal that doesn't have a voice," Paul said.

"I figure if someone like me who has almost lost their life and two limbs to a shark can understand why they are so important and why they need to be saved, then maybe everyone else should be able to as well."

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