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CNN Larry King Live
Shark Attack Survivors
Aired July 25, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM, HOST: Tonight, savage shark attacks -- miraculous escapes. An underwater photographer who videotaped her own screams of terror and her exhausting journey back to land after she survived the ocean's killing machines. A man who had parts of his right arm chopped off by sharks while swimming off the Alabama coast. A surfer who held off an attack by a 10-foot great white by punching it in the nose.
Now Jack Hanna, Jacques Cousteau's grandson, Philippe Cousteau, and Les "Survivorman" Stroud, with people who nearly lost their lives to sharks but made it here to tell their terrifying tales.
It's all next on "LARRY KING LIVE".
Harvey Levin here filling in for Larry King tonight.
Shark attacks have long been the subject of movies. But this coming week, Discovery Channel is taking a look at real life sharks and some close encounters people have had with them. This hour we're hearing from some of those people. And we'll talk to animal experts about these carnivorous creatures, their behavior and their dwindling population at the hands of humans.
Let's start with our panel in Los Angeles. Les Stroud, who is the host of Science Channel's "Survivorman" and the Discovery Channel's 20th anniversary "Shark Week," which begins July 29th.
Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau, and the president of Earth Eco International and "Animal Planet's" chief ocean correspondent.
Jack Hanna in Bigfork, Montana, who is the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and the host of "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild," premiering this fall in television syndication.
And also in Los Angeles, Valerie de la Valdene, who is the underwater photographer and shark attack survivor who captured her own life-threatening ordeal on videotape. You'll be seeing portions of it during tonight's broadcast.
Les, first of all, you shot original footage for "Shark Week". And I believe one of the segments is called Feeding Frenzy.
LES STROUD, HOST, "SURVIVORMAN": Yes, that's right.
LEVIN: Which is always a warning.
LEVIN: You know, first of all, let's start off -- you've got to see -- you've got to see what he encountered here. It is just breathtaking. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SURVIVORMAN," COURTESY, THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)
STROUD: Feeding with the spear is working, but now, a little overconfident, I decide to feed by hand. Big mistake. I didn't see that shark come in and make a quick turn to grab the fish and in an instant he's got my hand. For a few shocking seconds, I'm filled with pure fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: First of all, why did you do it?
STROUD: Are you sure that was me?
LEVIN: Why would you put yourself in that kind of danger?
STROUD: Well, we were in a situation where we were doing a number of tests to see what provokes attacks, what the sharks would prefer to eat, why they make the mistake -- are things a case of mistaken identity?
And with the Caribbean reef sharks, it was certainly a situation such as that. These sharks really only wanted to fish. That's all they wanted. They didn't want me. They were in are frenzied state -- to use that word loosely -- in the fact that there were 15, 20 of them and they were excited. They were going after the fish.
I was in a place where I was with an expert. It's a calculated risk, all right?
I mean was very confident. I'm comfortable with wild animals to begin with.
LEVIN: But you got bit.
STROUD: But I got bit. And the overconfidence level in me, you know, now I've been there for a while. I'm relaxed. I'm getting into this, you know? It's exciting. But the fish heads are getting too small to stab. What the heck. I'm going reach in. And I reach in and I start to do the hand feeding. And that's when I -- when I underestimated. And that was -- that was a nine foot reef shark and...
LEVIN: Were you hurt?
STROUD: Well, yes, I took -- I took the bruise. The tooth went right into the knuckle and I took the bleeding and the, you know, small scars on there from the fingers. If I didn't have the chain mail suit on, I wouldn't have these fingers here today, that's for sure. They have small teeth, but they have a lot of them so.
LEVIN: Philippe, there was an attack just a week ago in Oahu, Hawaii, and it was off the coast. And there was somebody who was attacked in an area where there have never been shark attacks before, at least in the last 50 years.
Are these attacks on the rise?
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, ANIMAL PLANET CHIEF OCEAN CORRESPONDENT, JACQUES COUSTEAU'S GRANDSON: No. I don't think shark attacks, in any evidence that we've seen, are on the rise at all. They're pretty much stable. There's only, roughly, around 60 shark attacks worldwide every year. That varies, but...
LEVIN: Why does it feel like we're hearing about more of them then?
COUSTEAU: I think it's, you know, it's a little bit of media sensationalism. You know, it's a story that sells. You know, "Jaws" is still -- that movie is still part of the public psyche. And it's a story that people pay attention to when they hear it on the news. So I think part of it can be chalked up to -- chalked up to the media.
LEVIN: Valerie, we're going to hear about your shark attack shortly, but why do sharks attack humans?
VALERIE DE LA VALDENE, UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHER, RECORDED OWN SHARK ATTACK ON VIDEO: I don't actually believe sharks attack humans. I think that we put ourselves in situations that the sharks are in their environment and we put ourselves into their environment and they don't even realize that we're there. We are just prey. They think that we're an animal, perhaps. Like, for me, living in the Galapagos, a sea lion or another animal that's on -- on the surface.
So I don't think sharks attack humans. I think sharks are doing what they're doing. I think that they're just living, feeding and going about their business, and we've find -- we now, more and more, are finding ourselves in the oceans, and in the oceans with more and more surfers, more and more divers, more and more people in the oceans, we're now crowding their space. And it's not like zoos. We can't corral the ocean. You know, we -- the ocean is the ocean, the sharks are sharks, the animals are there.
And so by more of us coming into their territory, we're creating an environment for them to...
STROUD: And they're far more opportunistic, as well. I mean when you have maco sharks going after a deer that's trying to swim from one island to another, it's not because he's a deer hunter. It's just simply -- it's an opportunity.
LEVIN: But you...
STROUD: It smells the scent and it's on.
LEVIN: And, Jack, you know, just the reality that, you know, sharks can confuse humans for fish and the fact that the oceans are getting crowded with humans, there is something for humans to fear then.
JACK HANNA, HOST, "INTO THE WILD," DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO & AQUARIUM: Well, there is. But, remember, sharks have been around for about 400 million years and there's about -- I think about 375 species of sharks have been identified and only about a dozen of them cause problems.
Right now, I'm at Flahevik Lodge (ph) in Montana here, in Bigfork, and just an hour ago, a young child about 10 years old asked me if there were any sharks in Flat Head Lake. And, of course, all your panel there is saying the same thing, that sharks don't attack humans. These animals -- they're a living fossil for 400 million years. And, of course, what's happening to them today -- which we'll get into later -- is a tragedy because -- it's like they were saying, you sometimes get overconfident.
I mean we dove with the sharks, the great white sharks in South Africa, off the coast there. We dove with the sharks in the Galapagos, as well as in the Caribbean. And, you know, it's one word and that's respect of these animals. You have to respect them. And hopefully people will understand this magnificent creature.
All your panel knows a lot more about sharks, probably, than I do. But if people are just aware that these sharks are -- it's like in Montana, if you go hiking and a grizzly bear -- like I'll be hiking tomorrow and these bears are out right now eating and stuff, if you surprise one, then something will happen. All of a sudden everybody says -- as they said -- the media gets a hold of it and it's sensationalized. And, of course, it's the grizzly bear hunting humans.
They don't do that at all. The grizzly bear, 90 percent of its diet is leaves and insects and fruits and that type of thing.
So sharks are a magnificent animal. And, you know, "Jaws," when I was young -- I'm probably the oldest one on the panel right now -- but when you saw "Jaws," you know, sometimes I didn't want to put my toe in the ocean. But once you get out there and you see these creatures and you leave them alone, then they're -- they're magnificent.
LEVIN: But the fact, Les, is that they can be dangerous. And on "Survivorman," you were dumped into the ocean to fend for yourself for a week and you had trouble.
How do you deal with sharks that are circling you like you're prey?
STROUD: Well, you deal with them -- really, the surviving thing for me was learning that you deal with them the same way you deal with any major predator, just like it is on land. It's all about respect. It's all about remaining calm and being cautious, not running -- the minute you run scared you become prey, I mean, whether it's a mountain lion or a black bear or a shark. If you are high tailing it out of there, you are telling them I'm prey. You get them excited. But in the case of sharks, I mean, the number one thing obviously is when you are in the water, if you can get out, get out. That's the best -- best tip going, it's just get out and get away from them. Give them their space. But if you...
LEVIN: But if you're 100 yards out...
STROUD: And you're stuck with them?
LEVIN: And you're stuck with them.
STROUD: Well, for one thing, with sharks, I've found that they, like so many predators, fear one thing -- they fear being injured. If you injure a rabbit, he might be able to stay and munch in a field of grass. If you injure a large predator, he will probably die. He can't hunt anymore. Sharks don't want to be injured anymore than a grizzly bear does.
So when you let him know I see you, I constantly see you, I'm not letting you out of my sight, they like -- they would prefer if they're going to attack, to attack from the side or from behind. And as long as they see you looking, they can -- they sense your eyes very well.
That's -- that's a great tip, is just knowing that -- you let them know that you see them, you're respecting them, you're being calm, but I see you. That's a great way to keep him from getting all excited and coming in from behind.
LEVIN: But sometimes it goes wrong.
And coming up, the dark details of Valerie's caught-on-tape encounter with sharks. It is a scream, literally, and it's next.
You're watching "LARRY KING LIVE".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "PRIMAL SCREAM," COURTESY, THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Valerie feels something bump her fin.
DE LA VALDENE: I kept looking down. I had my camera on. And then there was one shark and in (INAUDIBLE), when I started realizing that there was five and at that point, I knew I was going to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: Unbelievable footage of a shark attack being shot by Valerie de la Valdene, who is an ocean photographer.
It's incredible to listen to this.
How did it happen?
Where were you? Just paint a picture.
DE LA VALDENE: Well, I was in the -- I was down diving in the northern islands of the Galapagos, filming a show called "Nature's Best Photographers." And as I was saying, we do everything in the entire world as underwater photographers to stay away from everybody and everything.
So pretty much, I was doing everything wrong. I moved away from the dive site. I was off chasing a whale shark 125 miles off of any land. I got caught up into this mesmerizing school of jacks and I was filming the jacks. And a large Galapagos shark started swimming in through the -- through the school of jacks, posturing.
I was young. I was arrogant. I thought I was going to be the first person on tape to ever be able to tape a Galapagos shark feeding. And I was filming and then I realized about 22 minutes into the dive that it was posturing and it was coming towards me and it was time to move.
So I came up into the dive and I hadn't realized where I was. And I looked around and I hadn't paid attention to anything. I was too busy concentrating on the animal. And I looked around and Darwin Island was gone, the dinghies were gone, land was gone. The seas were up to 15 feet. There was nothing. There was absolute nothing. And at that moment, I knew I was going to die. I mean there was -- I didn't have a chance. I was an outward bound (INAUDIBLE)...
LEVIN: And there were multiple sharks.
DE LA VALDENE: Well, at that point, I looked down and there's one Galapagos shark. And then from one Galapagos shark, there was two, three. But I was screaming, as you saw. I was screaming and I was panicked. And I didn't know what to do. I mean I knew no one could hear me. I knew that what I could do -- all I knew is I could turn on my video camera and film my own death.
I mean that's what was basically happening. And by the time I was finished, there were seven Galapagos sharks and they were hitting me. One cracked a rib. I was hitting them off with my fins, the camera...
LEVIN: But they didn't bite you.
DE LA VALDENE: No, they didn't bite me. They were bumping me. And I think that that is something that needs to be discussed, is that I don't think that hammer -- when we were talking about sharks earlier, I think that they were testing the waters, as Les was saying. They were -- they were seeing if I was going to be an apex predator or not, because they weren't going to get involved with me if I was going to do something that was going to harm them.
And the more I was -- the more I was terrified and the more I was losing it and out of control and the more I was screaming, the more the sharks were coming in. And the more the sharks were coming in -- and on the video, you could see shoals of Galapagos sharks that were starting to come in. LEVIN: Philippe, are sharks -- do they have personalities?
I mean, you just think of killing machines on a level.
I mean are these -- do they have, you know, socialization?
Do they have personalities?
COUSTEAU: Absolutely. You know, people do think of sharks as killing machines. And I was, you know, just diving off of Southern Australia six or seven months ago with great whites. In just the six or so sharks that we interacted with over a day-and-a-half, we saw very different personalities. Some of them were a little more aggressive. Some of them, you know, were kind of standoffish.
So, there were different personalities, a different pecking order in those sharks. And they were thoughtful. Oftentimes they'd come and really take time looking at the bait. They didn't just hit it automatically and mindlessly. They were much more thoughtful about what they were doing and definitely different personalities.
LEVIN: Les, is there a sense of community with sharks? I mean do they just travel alone or is there kind of a pecking order within a group of shark?
STROUD: Well, I think you get -- it's going to depend on the species of the shark. We were talking earlier amongst ourselves about the hammerhead shark and that you see them in a socialization group all swimming together. We've seen that in different videos, where there's hundreds of them all swimming in unison.
When I was down with the Caribbean reef sharks, it seems like it's more of a sense of a high school playground. They're just, hey, they're all hanging out and they're looking for the fish and they don't care and they're bumping and grinding with each other. And you don't sense any pecking order.
So I think it depends from species to species.
On the other hand, when I was in Australia, Philippe and I were discussing the great whites down there. And we had 16- and 17-footers coming in and around and ramming -- the cage I was in, one 18-footer came in and the others took off like a shot. So you know there's a pecking order going on there.
LEVIN: Jack Hanna, are sharks -- they've survived for so long -- are they smart creatures?
HANNA: Yes, I think every animal adapts to its environment. As far as smart, that's -- it means different things for different animals, as well as humans. But they were talking about creatures. We were off the coast of South Africa, off of the bay out there in what they call Shark Alley. And these guys may have been there, where you have penguins over here, little African penguins. And then seals over here, sea lions and stuff over here. And they're all in there swimming. And we were out there for three days on the rough seas. And finally the last day, we had to get out of there. And so we put the producer, Larry Elliston, in the cage to feed the shark -- you know, you put a piece of meat on a rope there and bring the rope in so you can see the shark and film it up close. But this shark came up right out of the water, this 14-footer, with a mouth wide open.
And then you really had to -- it wasn't fear, it was respect, again, for the animal. But then the tail got tangled in the line that held the cage and it was three ring fiasco. No one panicked. The guy in the cage thought it was part of -- just part of what was going on. But luckily it didn't break the line or anything like that.
Even in the Caribbean, the same guy, we were filming sharks down there and he was told to wear a long wet short. Well, he wore a shortie wet suit, which you know if you're diving and that shark, as, you know, most of them just take a bite. It was what you call a hit and run -- they just bite and leave.
And sure enough, he had four holes right there in his calf, bled profusely, but didn't have the (INAUDIBLE). It just -- their teeth are just like beyond a razor blade sharpness.
LEVIN: What do you do -- I mean all of you have kind of encountered this -- what do you do when a shark attacks?
How do you counter it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
DE LA VALDENE: Well, I'll answer that just because I was listening to what Les said earlier. And well, what happened with me, I mean I had seven sharks that are surrounding me. I've now got a broken rib because they're hitting me pretty hard. Twenty other sharks are coming at me and it's -- it's not going to work out.
LEVIN: So what do you do?
DE LA VALDENE: I actually had to get a little bit of control of what was going on in my life. And I had to settle down and I had to just start swimming away. I mean that 17-foot seas, I didn't know where I was swimming, but I just had to move.
LEVIN: So if you're calm, it works in your favor with these sharks?
LEVIN: I mean, especially if they're coming at you?
COUSTEAU: They're a predator. They can sense that fight or flight reaction that people have. They can sense that. And they respond to it accordingly. So stay calm and try and get away, definitely.
STROUD: And you -- I mean you can take it even a step further in that stay calm and deal with that situation. But at some point, when it goes over the line the other way, you actually can necessarily be aggressive in reverse.
It's like, OK, you're not messing with me. If you come in this close, bam. And you hear the classic story. Even, we know there's a story of a young boy that saved his own life. He had been watching "Shark Week" and he learned punch the shark in the nose.
COUSTEAU: In the nose.
STROUD: and I did it when I got bit with my hand. There was all that you saw -- that's all I could think of to do.
So it's that step beyond. You do it with black bears. You know, a woman saved her life by tweaking a black bear's nose. It was enough of an aggressive act...
COUSTEAU: That they back off.
STROUD: ...that this big predator goes oh, this thing might hurt me.
I'm getting out of here.
LEVIN: OK. We are going to take a break.
Up next, a triathlete who was swimming only 100 feet from dry land when a shark attacked. His amazing story when LARRY KING LIVE lives continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the worst case scenario?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they're getting too intense and they're all over you, punch them on the nose with your fist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an aggressive move.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. (INAUDIBLE). Whack them. And if that doesn't work, you poke them in your eye with your stump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With your stump?
Oh my goodness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SHARKWATER," 20TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION, COURTESY DISCOVERY CHANNEL)
CHUCK ANDERSON, SHARK BIT OFF PART OF RIGHT ARM AS HE SWAM OFF ALABAMA COAST: All of a sudden, the shark latched on to my right arm and immediately took me to the bottom of the Gulf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Struggling for air, Chuck knew that his chances of surviving the attack were growing slim, as the shark's sheer strength forced him to the ocean's floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: Harvey Levin in for Larry King.
Joining our panel right now is Chuck Anderson, who is one of the people featured on the Discovery's "Shark Attack Survivors."
A shark took off part of his right arm while he was swimming off the Gulf Coast in Alabama. It's an incredible story. Paint the picture.
ANDERSON: I was a very lucky person. I was out triathlon training about 6:30 one morning. And as I was swimming past an old set of pilings, all of a sudden something rammed me from underneath. It hit me about thigh high, rolled me up out of the water and completely on my back.
I didn't see it initially, but knew exactly what it was. And I started treading water. I was in about 15 feet of water and started looking around on the surface trying to find the shark. And put my face down in the water and when it did it was coming up and I instinctively just threw my hands out to -- to push off the shark. And when I did he took off four fingers off of my right hand.
LEVIN: What kind of shark?
ANDERSON: It was a bull shark.
LEVIN: How big?
ANDERSON: About eight-and-a-half feet.
And I heard somebody say a minute ago -- maybe it was Jack that said that shark's teeth were extremely sharp and kind of like a surgeon's scalpel. They just -- not a whole lot of pain initially.
The shark circled out and went away. And I was looking around again, trying to -- trying to backpedal in the water with all of the blood coming out. I held my arm up in the air and put my face back down in the water. And all of a sudden it hit me in the stomach. And I didn't realize it at the time, but he had actually sank his teeth into my stomach.
And he circled out for the fourth time. And when he came back this time, I tried to push off of him again. He latched onto my right arm and took me immediately to the bottom of the Gulf and threw me around. And the people on the beach said I stayed under for about two minutes.
And all of a sudden, he came up to the surface and I was able to lock my left hand to his nose. And he pushed me to the beach about 150 yards away and we ended up on a sandbar. And he was laying completely down the right side of my body and I tried to wiggle myself...
LEVIN: You mean he was out of the water with you? ANDERSON: We were on a sandbar. He was beached. I mean it was about shin deep water. And I was underneath him and I was trying to keep my face back away from him so he wouldn't snap at my face. And I tried to pull my arm out of his mouth one or two times. And I worked it up and down and jerked real hard. And when I did, it completely stripped my arm. And my right hand popped off in his mouth and my Timex Ironman ended up in his stomach. And I fell backwards over the sandbar and ran like heck to the beach to try to get away from him that last time.
LEVIN: That's incredible. Unbelievable. It was -- so you're staring at this shark as it's attacking you.
ANDERSON: Oh, we were eyeball to eyeball. And those people that say that, you know, they -- their stories are they were underwater and they were able to see the shark. My situation was I was on the surface and I wasn't able to find him. And...
LEVIN: So how do you explain this? I mean what -- was this just an anomaly or is this a shark that's mistaking him for food?
Because it's vicious. It's savage.
COUSTEAU: Well, it's -- I mean, it's a predator attacking what it perceives as prey. It's savage whether you're dealing with sharks or any predator you're dealing with. You know, people do bad things to each other.
I think that that's very typical, being on the surface. A lot of sharks do hunt -- especially great whites -- hunt typically animals that on the surface. And as I said earlier, being predators they don't want to -- they like to sneak up on prey.
LEVIN: So you are a triathlete?
ANDERSON: Yes, sir.
LEVIN: How did it change your life?
ANDERSON: It made it a little more difficult to swim, I know that.
LEVIN: Do you still?
ANDERSON: Oh, yes, sir. I've done 13 since then and plan on doing one August 25th, getting back into it after about two years. I've actually gotten scared of getting into the water after about three years of intense competition and training. It -- I guess I got to thinking about it a little bit more.
But I'm back into it now and I'm looking forward to it. And I hope when I put my face in that salt water for the first time in two years on August 25th, I don't get nervous again.
But I agree with these people. That shark wasn't trying to attack me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and just I happened to be the biggest -- the biggest piece of bait out there that day. And if he would have wanted me, if he would have been tacking -- trying to attack a human being, if he would have been trying to kill me, he could have done that quickly.
LEVIN: But he came back three or four times.
ANDERSON: That's, I think, because I kept striking towards him. I kept throwing my hands towards him. I kept trying to fend off of him. And he was just curious. There's no question in my mind that that shark didn't know I was a human being and I -- it really bothers me that people say they've never gone back in the water since my attack down in Gulf Shores, because it's a wonderful place and I love the water.
And if people were just educated and understand when you should swim and when you shouldn't swim and what conditions you should be in the water in, then I think people will go back out there and swim.
My children still swim. I still get in the water and swim, though I don't go out early in the mornings and train for triathlons. But I really don't like the fact that people are fearful of the water or the oceans now. It's a beautiful place to be and if you're educated, I think it's just as safe as any place else.
HANNA: You know, you have to...
LEVIN: OK, Chuck, we are going to take a...
HANNA: You have to remember...
LEVIN: Jack, we're going to take a quick break.
HANNA: All right.
LEVIN: Chuck, amazing story.
Thank you for joining us.
ANDERSON: Yes, sir.
LEVIN: The rest of the panel is going to stay.
When we come back, the surfer whose knockout punch turned out to be a life saver when a great white moved in for the kill. Another amazing story and you'll hear it when "LARRY KING LIVE" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stewart emptied the remainder of the food, sending the sharks into a feeding frenzy. The sharks' behavior seemed unusual; also unusual was for a diver to get bitten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: Harvey Levin in for Larry King. Jack Hanna -- and he's at the Flathead Lake Lodge in Big Fort, Montana.
I apologize for interrupting you when we took a break.
HANNA: That's all right.
LEVIN: Jump in.
HANNA: Well, what I was going to say is that even Christmas lights cause electrocutions. You know people die of Christmas lights more than shark bites. But it's important to know that a lot of shark bites occur as well early in the morning, late in the evening hours, in the darkness, that type of thing, people swimming way offshore. Sharks like to be near sandbars, as you heard the gentleman just say. And they like to go off the edges of sandbars.
Myself, if I'm swimming, I like to get out with four or five other people if I know there are sharks there, if you see a lot of bait fish out there, a lot of birds flying over the ocean, that means there's a lot of bait fish down there. You want to be careful if you have jewelry on. You have to be careful if you have a bite somewhere or a scratch. You might have a little blood coming out of a cut. These are all things you can remember to do if there are sharks in that area. So it's just -- you know it's a matter of safety precautions that you can take to avoid the sharks.
LEVIN: Joining me right now is Brian Anderson in Portland, Oregon. Brian survived a shark attack off the Oregon coast while surfing. His story is going to be featured on Discovery Channel's "Shark Week."
Brian, tell us what happened.
BRIAN ANDERSON, SURVIVED SHARK ATTACK OFF OREGON COAST: Well, it was Christmas Eve and a friend of mine came and picked me up and we went surfing. And we'd been out there for about two and a half hours. And there were nine other guys out there, you know. So I'm sure the shark was swimming around checking us out.
And slowly, the group started thinning out. So it ended up being just three guys out. And I was one of the third guys out there. And I was the furthest one out, kind of by myself. And I think that's the time that it thought it had an opportunity to have a bite.
LEVIN: And what happened?
B. ANDERSON: And so I was sitting on my surf board waiting for some outside set waves to come in so I can catch my last wave and get out of the water. And as I was sitting on my board, I just felt something come from the right side and grab my right foot real quickly. I felt some sharp pains but then it, like everybody said, they're so sharp you don't really feel anything too quickly. And then I just looked down beside me and all I see is the body of the shark. And the nose pops up. And I'm just looking at it eye to eye. And I just give it two quick punches right in the nose. And they're really hard when you try to punch them. So...
LEVIN: And this is a Great White?
B. ANDERSON: Either a Great White or a very large Salmon Shark. They have two types of sharks in Oregon, a Salmon Shark. And it looks like a smaller Great White. And then we have the Great White. So...
LEVIN: What happened to you?
B. ANDERSON: I punched it had twice and it let go. And I just started paddling back into shore as quickly as I could, but as safely as I could, too, because it's a real dangerous spot where we were surfing. You can get really hurt.
LEVIN: How bad were your injuries?
B. ANDERSON: I didn't know at the time. I didn't know if my foot was gone or if it was still there. But once I got on to the beach, it was still there. And I just had some real deep lacerations. I had a full wet suit. And my booty was still -- my booty was pulled halfway off my foot. So I got into the beach and took my leash and used it like a tourniquet to wrap it around my leg to stoop the bleeding.
B. ANDERSON: And then I had to actually -- there was a couple surfers there that were able to come down and able to carry me because we were at least 500 yards from the parking lot. And you have to walk on cobblestones. And there was no way I was going to walk out of there.
LEVIN: You know Philippe; I've seen these incredible pictures of Great Whites jumping into the air. And my recollection is it's somewhere around Australia, but it's just one place in the world where they actually get airborne. Why is that? It's just this one area. It's incredible to look at.
COUSTEAU: Well, you know, there's so many things in the ocean. We know very little actually about behavior and why sharks do these kinds of things. But, you know, certainly with Great Whites, we know that typically they do attack from underneath and they do attack sea lions, or, you know, (INAUDIBLE), like sea lion seals, et cetera, are their primary prey many places in the world, California, South Africa, et cetera. And they do come from underneath.
LEVIN: But they don't jump except around there.
COUSTEAU: Well, you know, it might, again, we don't exactly know why they do that. It could be many different reasons. Maybe they're coming and trying to hit the animal really quickly. It might be rough water, who knows, and they just end up washing themselves out of the water. I've not heard of any particular reason why they do that.
STROUD: They're actually stopping. They found that since doing experiments where they were using fake seals to film this and in some people capitalize on it, but from the tourism perspective, the sharks have learned that they can't eat this stuff and they've stopped doing it. They're actually slowing down. They do not see it anywhere near as much as you did when they first discovered it.
LEVIN: So explain something to me about finning, which I'm going to get into in the next segment. What is it? You know I know this is some kind of a delicacy with soup. But is it that popular that it could literally put the entire species in danger?
COUSTEAU: It is putting the entire species in danger. I mean already, you know, the United Nations Environmental Program estimates that we lose somewhere between 70 to 100 million sharks a year worldwide. They're getting decimated everywhere.
I was just filming in the Mediterranean for a new series a few weeks ago. And we didn't see one shark anywhere. So shark finning is a delicacy in China, in Taiwan, for shark fin soup. And it is leading to the decimation of sharks around the world.
LEVIN: Brian, real quickly, do you still surf?
B. ANDERSON: Oh yes, all the time.
LEVIN: All right, good luck. OK, thanks for joining us.
More ahead, including a filmmaker who has made his living with some amazing work. You're going to see some of it when we come back here on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's got to be at least nine, 10 sharks down there, all big Lemon Sharks. All they're doing right now is gumming up the legs. They're sort of bumping it with their nose and testing it out. Oh, man, I would not want to be down there right now. OK, here it comes. Here it comes. It's getting close. Got the leg, got the leg. He's gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to sink the ship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not stopping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: That was a clip from the award-winning documentary "Sharkwater." Joining our panel right now is Rob Stewart who is the man who made that film.
What -- this took you five years, I understand, to make?
ROB STEWART, FILMMAKER, "SHARKWATER": Yes, it did, five years, 15 countries. It was quite a venture.
LEVIN: What drew you to it?
STEWART: I was a wildlife photographer. I had spent nine months of the year traveling the world doing conservation issues. And as a kid, I loved sharks. Sharks were one of my favorite animals.
And I showed up in the Galapagos Islands actually. And I expected to find and photograph Hammerhead sharks and all I managed was to stay under water. And I found 60 miles of long lines and 160 sharks dead and dying on these lines in one of the last national parks on earth. And they were the last places where sharks should be protected they were dying. And I sort of, you know, went on this little mission to figure out why people were killing sharks and what was going on.
And I realized that, you know, 100 million sharks were dying every year. Shark populations around the world had declined almost 90 percent and nobody noticed or cared largely because it was like championing the plague. Nobody wanted to save the villain. Nobody wanted to save sharks. And so I figured if I made a movie that gave people a new view of sharks, a different impression of them, then they could care enough to fight for their protection.
LEVIN: And finning is obviously kind of at the base of all of this. And you had -- you know I watched it this weekend. It's an incredible, incredible documentary. But this story -- I mean just tell the story about being chased by the Coast Guard with machine guns.
STEWART: Yes. It's such a wild story. When I started, you know, I knew nothing about film. I was a 22-year-old kid that wanted to make a movie about sharks. It was supposed to be an underwater movie. You know I barely both microphones. And I teamed up with conservationist from Sea Shepherd Conservationist Society named Paul Watson.
And I got on his boat and we started our journey south from Los Angeles to Costa Rica. And we found a Costa Rican fishing boat illegally finning for sharks in Guatemala where they cut off the fins and discard the whole bodies. And that resulted in, you know, these two boats ended colliding.
We ended up in Costa Rica charged with seven counts of attempted murder for the seven people aboard the fishermen. We ended up having to fight court cases in Costa Rica for weeks and realizing there was a time when the mafia was behind it. And that's why -- because there were millions of dollars going into Costa Rica for this illegal shark finning trade.
LEVIN: And does it go right to China? I mean is that the kind of core of it?
STEWART: Yes. Yes, the core of the sharks and market is the growing demand for shark fin soup in Asia. So you know it's become a ubiquitous plate at weddings, business dinners, that kind of thing. And so -- it pays so much money. It's a billion dollar industry. And you're getting huge organized crime area and that's what we ran into in Costa Rica.
We figured out the reason why this conservation group, despite being invited by the president of Costa Rica to protect Cocos Island, this national part, from shark poachers, they were being thwarted in all their efforts because Costa Rica was making tons of money off of this illegal shark finning operation.
LEVIN: So everybody is in it together?
STEWART: So everybody was in it together. And as soon as we exposed that, our lawyer called and said what have you done? They're going to come and detain you indefinitely now instead of keeping you under house arrest. So we ended up having to wrap our ship with barbed wire so the Coast Guard couldn't jump on board. And we were running from Costa Rica with machine guns next to us.
LEVIN: It's an incredible story.
STEWART: And that became act one.
LEVIN: Is there a consciousness that's building at all in Asia over finning?
COUSTEAU: I think so. I mean there are some movements, getting some celebrities like Yao Ming and Jackie Chan, and other people to denounce shark finning.
The problem is in the Chinese market, you know, as Rob said, it's growing and it's becoming more prosperous in the Chinese economy, so more and more people can afford it. Shark fin soup is like, what, $200 a bowl or something? And it's really expensive stuff. It's a very high luxury item. People want to do it at weddings and be able to show that they can afford it.
LEVIN: Les, describe what finning it.
STROUD: Finning, well, basically as it was described earlier, they just get rid of the rest of the shark and keep the fin and off it goes to Asia. It's as simple as that.
LEVIN: Is it -- I mean I don't know how sharks feel. I mean can they feel the pain of this?
DE LA VALDENE: Oh, it's a terrible way to die. Actually sometimes in the Galapagos, I've seen it years ago with the Sea Shepherd. And they're actually take the shark and they'll fin the -- they'll hit the shark over the head. They'll fin the three fins. They'll take the shark -- and the shark will start twirling underwater in extreme pain not able to move and not able -- you see it just it rolling down and there's absolutely nothing you can do. It's one of the most devastating things you can ever witness in your entire life.
LEVIN: Jack, do you see a turnaround in the consciousness here in the United States, you know, over sharks that people are starting to realize that it's not just Jaws, that there's value there?
HANNA: Yes, sure you do. At all the Sea World parks, a lot of the zoological parks, a lot of the aquariums are teaching about how viable the sharks are. You must remember that sharks mature at about 8 to 12 years old. So they are mature then. They have a litter every two years, about 10 sharks, 10 babies. So you can see that the reproduction isn't like a lot of animals. It takes a while. So as they just said, 100 million killed a year. I mean it's a no-brainer.
And of course, 140 million people visit the accredited zoos and aquariums in this country. So if we can educate 140 million people here, hopefully we get -- that education will go to China and other countries like these folks are doing right now, to tell people about shark finning soup and do something else, do another replacement for that hopefully.
LEVIN: We're going to take a break but when we come back, we're going to talk about why you should care about sharks and the preservation of sharks. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: You're told your whole life since you were a kid sharks are dangerous. You're warned about venturing too far into the ocean. But then finally you're underwater and you see the thing that you were taught your whole life to fear and it's perfect. And it doesn't want to hurt you. And it's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen and your whole world changes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEATHER BOSWELL, VICTIM OF SHARK ATTACK: And then the shark came back and grabbed my other leg. That was the only point I thought I wasn't going to make it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this incredible rare video made at the moment of the attack, the 16-foot shark is clearly visible as he swims up and bites down on Heather's leg. Witnesses claim the dorsal fin was 3 foot wide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!
BOSWELL: They pulled me to the boat and I go oh. And I look down and my leg was gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: Welcome back. I'm Harvey Levin in for LARRY KING. And this hour is devoted to Shark Week which is appearing on Discovery Channel. It's really just an incredible series of shows.
Rob Stewart, the filmmaker who shot "Sharkwater," why are sharks important to me in my life?
STEWART: Sharks are important to you because sharks have been apex predators in the oceans, top predators in the ocean for 400 million years. The oceans are the source of life on land. Life evolved first in the oceans and then planktons, tiny little plankton in the ocean started sequestering carbon, cooling the planet, right. And then the atmosphere became hospitable for life. Life evolved onto land.
Today still, you know, 70 percent of our oxygen comes from the oceans. Plankton in the oceans, life in the oceans that sits below sharks in the food chain that takes in the most of the carbon dioxide on anything on the planet. Seventy percent of the carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere by plankton. And carbon dioxide is a global warming gas that everyone is speaking about.
So sharks are important not just because they sit at the top of the food chain that feeds most of the planet but the oceans are two- thirds of our planet. You know 70 percent of our oxygen.
LEVIN: Valerie, are sharks -- I mean this is kind of a crass question, but I would think for tourism sharks might be worth more alive than dead.
DE LA VALDENE: Well, yes. I live in the Galapagos Islands. And as we were talking during the break that we had up to schools of 10,000 sharks at a time. And to see 10,000 Hammerheads schooling above you is like seeing the stars in the most beautiful night you've ever seen. It's beyond imagination. It's beyond beauty. It's beyond sensuality. It's beyond everything that you can imagine in your entire life.
And I think that if you have tourism, people that want to go see the sharks that won't actually feel the sharks -- what he was just saying is the only people who don't like sharks are the people that have never seen sharks. Once you've actually experienced the ocean, and you've experienced the water, and you've experienced the beauty and the passion that are sharks, then people will begin to understand that they're definitely something that we are more -- are much more valuable alive than dead.
COUSTEAU: Yes, just the most graceful, you know beautiful things that you could ever imagine.
LEVIN: You know you are responsible for "Ocean's Deadliest," which is on Animal Planet. And it's -- you know this is the show where Steve Erwin died. And I want to talk to you about that, but first let's take a look at the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COUSTEAU: This Great White is so focused it doesn't stop biting even when it's chewing Marine-grade steel. In fact, until it actually bites something, it doesn't know whether it's edible or not. Did you see that?
You can see that it's so much clearer down there. And when they go right by the cage, it's not something I will ever, ever forget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVIN: So how did -- how did Steve Irwin's death change your fear meter?
COUSTEAU: You know, it was -- he was such a great guy. And the time I spent with him, I'll never forget. He -- it was a one in a billion accident what happened to Steve with the stingray. So it didn't affect my fear of going in the water at all.
LEVIN: Your grandfather never really had an incident when he was in the water for decades. Was it luck or was it probability?
COUSTEAU: I think, you know, you take the danger into consideration, and you act accordingly. I mean Les is probably certainly better prepared to talk about that than I am. He takes risks all the time but calculated risks.
STROUD: And we talked about it. I mean these are calculated risks by -- done after careful study and research and so on. And I was saying to Philippe, you know, yes, it's a cliche, but you know what, I weigh more fear hopping in the car and getting on that freeway than I do getting out in the wild with any wild predator on the planet.
And we create this culture of fear. And then like what Rob is trying to do, we're trying to stop shark finning. And you have to actually argue through the fact that, yes, but they're sharks. Aren't they mean? And aren't they nasty? And you have to -- you're trying to argue that if it was soft and it was cuddly, if it was, you know, we talked about well, if a tiger is killed by humans, everyone gets up in arms. We can understand that we can make stuffed toys out of tigers. But when it's a shark, we have to fight this culture of fear when the animal is majestic, powerful and beautiful.
LEVIN: OK. We are going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk about the lay of the land around the world, where the most dangerous areas are and what the real story is behind the danger or lack of danger of sharks. This is LARRY KING LIVE.
LEVIN: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Valerie, where is the deadliest area in the world if you had to set it for shark attacks?
DE LA VALDENE: Well, I was just laughing with Philippe because I said, well, you know, where is the deadliest area for sharks. And with the sharks declining of 90 percent, there are no sharks left so where are the deadliest areas for sharks. You know I can't really answer that question.
LEVIN: You know everybody says the Great White is the most deadly. And I don't want to harp on that, but is that a true statement?
STROUD: Great White, Hammerhead, Bull, Tiger, which one is it? Which one attacks the most? Which one is more opportunistic and actually bites people? We don't have the information to come out and make a broad statement to say this guy is the toughest or this guy is the most deadliest.
Again, I think the point of a lot of what we're saying is that's not the way they are at all. In fact, they're misunderstood. I think we're far more deadly than they are.
LEVIN: And it's you know it's kind of a good point that perception becomes reality, that there is a perception, you know, especially after these ominous movies that sharks are dangerous and they need to be done away with.
STEWART: Yes, absolutely. I mean the thing is in the past we've done it. You know whales were once seen as sea monsters. Moby Dick was a manhunter out there hunting man. And public perception changed. People realized the reality of the situation. And with that, wham, we had an international whaling commission and we saved whales from the brink of extinction.
We're facing a similar situation with sharks. But the consciousness around sharks is changing. People are starting to love sharks and realize that sharks aren't menacing predators with people. And I think with that, you know, obviously things can change.
LEVIN: But how do you do that when you have the finning industry that's still going great guns even if the perception around the world is changing, you have an industry that's decimating the creature?
COUSTEAU: Well, the international community has got to step up. Both countries like the United States and, you know, the United Nations has to step up with effective legislation that they enforce because shark conservation is about protecting not only the sharks but the fisheries that they're a critical part of. They supply over a billion people with the primary source of protein around the world. If sharks decline, people are impoverished. I mean sharks are critical to the health of the oceans. They're critical to our future and our children's futures.
LEVIN: Jack, will sharks survive? What do you think?
HANNA: I think sharks will survive. You know I think that the Sea World folks did a great -- all the folks that had the whales and what we learned about the whales helped a great deal. I think the same thing will happen, thanks to this program, about the sharks. It's all sustainability.
You know we can't take our oceans and all the fish in the oceans that consume everything. We now must understand that the sharks have to be taken care of as well as some other fishes in the ocean. If that doesn't happen, the, as Philippe and other people said, we're going to have massive problems with humanity as far as feeding. LEVIN: OK, Jack and the rest of the panel, you guys are really incredible. And you've done something to really raise consciousness. And personally, thank you. You guys are great.
STROUD: Thank you.
LEVIN: OK, that is it for LARRY KING LIVE tonight. Thanks for joining us. And my personal thanks to Larry for allowing me to sit in here for an hour. After all, it's shark week and I'm a lawyer.
Stay tuned as the news continues now on CNN with Anderson Cooper, "360."
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