How to be a World-Class Adaptive Surfer, Shark-Attack Survivor, Photographer and Marine Life Advocat

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Mike’s Wild Idea: To turn the shark attack where he lost his leg into a life mission. To also photograph sharks, help preserve marine wildlife, and to help other amputees and shark attack victims get active.

When he was 18, Mike Coots was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding in Hawaii. He survived, punching the shark numerous times in the face, but it took his right leg.

Today, Mike is a marine life advocate, a world-class photographer, a competitive surfer, and advocate for adaptive athletes. He is full of amazing stories, and shares many including one about how he tested, researched and designed his own prosthetic leg so he could standup surf. He also shares how he got into running, how he helps other shark attack victims and amputees get back in the water, and how he decides which projects to say yes to.

Listen to this episode if: 
• You’re a surfer or bodyboarder.
• You’re passionate about preserving marine wildlife.
• You love photography.
• You or someone you know is an adaptive athlete.
• You want to hear an awesome story.


2:30 – How taking pictures of sharks has changed Mike’s perspective on them.
4:20 – What stigmas Mike is trying to break about sharks.
5:30 – Why Mike wanted to learn about sharks and got involved in conservation.
8:55 – Why you should watch Shark Water.
9:30 – How Mike got into scuba diving.
10:20 – The challenge of standup surfing with one leg.
12:00 – The evolution of prosthetics.
16:00 – What happened when Mike got a prosthetic endorsement.
17:30 – The challenges of being an amputee surfer.
19:05 – Mike’s fitness training regime.
20:55 – Some of Mike’s most memorable surfing moments.
22:05 – The creative outlet of photography.
24:05 – How Mike decides what projects to say yes to.
25:00 – The most important things in Mike’s life right now.
26:15 – Beach running.
28:20 – Mike’s first dream where he had a prosthetic.
29:40 – What routines Mike has.
31:55 – Mike’s perfect party.
33:30 – Why it’s ok to start small.

Shelby Stanger has sandboarded down desolate sand dunes in South Africa, standup paddled a remote portion of the Peruvian Amazon, spent 60 days on a tour bus as the first female pit reporter for the Vans Warped Tour, and interviewed countless CEOs and athletes on assignment.

Her published stories have been featured in: Self,, Outside, The San Diego Union Tribune,, Women’s Adventure, Surfer Magazine, South Africa’s Cape Argus Newspaper, and (an industry trade site covering the multi-billion-dollar action sports industry) where she is a regular reporter.

Brand like Nike, PrAna, Vans, Body Glove, The International Surfing Association, Lululemon, and Global Surf Industries have all hired Shelby to help them with their media and marketing strategies and to tell better stories, gaining them more customers, fans and sales.

Previously, Shelby was the international marketing manager at Vans, where for over five years she oversaw brand’s activities in Asia, Latin America, Canada and the Australia/New Zealand regions. At Vans, she also contributed chapters to the book, Off the Wall: Stories of Sole From Vans Originals.

Shelby is passionate about fitness, nutrition, and giving back. Aside from teaching surfing at the Surf Diva Surf School (where she has been a part-time surf instructor since 1996), Shelby volunteers and also serves as a Board Member for Outdoor Outreach, a leading non-profit in San Diego that teaches inner city kids to surf, snowboard and rock climb.

While she spent a few years working remotely from Costa Rica and in New Zealand, she currently spends most of her time in San Diego where she enjoys surfing, yoga, running, volunteering with kids, and sampling the best local green juice and plant based foods from wherever she is in world.



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