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No Time for Fear  :  How a Shark Attack Survivor Beat the Odds - Paul De Gelder

No Time for Fear

How a Shark Attack Survivor Beat the Odds

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Paul de Gelder lost his right arm and leg to a violent shark attack in Sydney Harbour when he was going about his work as a Navy clearance diver in February 2009. He was lucky to survive, let alone resume work as a diver. His life up to the attack had already been a pretty wild ride, with a madcap escape from suburban Canberra to a drug-and-alcohol fuelled stint working in Sydney strip clubs, then an unlikely career move: joining the Army.

Nothing can really prepare you for surviving and recovering from a shark attack, but Paul drew on all his life experiences to get him through in record time. He refused to take no for an answer at every stage of his rehab. While at first he resisted the fact that his story 'inspired people' he has come to accept that if other people can draw strength from his life experiences then it's worth talking about.

In the defence forces, Paul was inspired by the US Marines unofficial mantra: improvise, adapt and overcome. He didn't know how important that mantra would become in his survival.

Paul is very frank, a natural storyteller who takes 'never say die' to a whole new level.

About The Author

From rebel, drug dealer and strip club worker to adventurer, soldier, fitness enthusiast, Navy diver, shark attack survivor, top motivational speaker and mentor to schoolkids across Australia, Paul de Gelder is an exceptional young man. He is now determined to carve out the best future for himself he could possibly imagine. Paul is a true survivor and an incredible inspiration.


Early one morning on a dark, overcast day in February 2009 in the coolest summer in 50 years, I was taking part in a counterterrorism exercise in Sydney Harbour.

A Royal Australian Navy clearance diver – from one of the defence force's most elite squads – I was swimming through the water on my back when I felt something smack me hard on the leg.

I rolled over and looked down – straight into the cold black eye of a massive bull shark, one of the most ferocious predators that ever stalked the world's oceans.

I peered closer through the murky water and could see it had something in its massive jaw between its teeth: my leg.

At that moment I knew I was in for the fight of my life.

My first instinct was to slash at the shark's eye but as soon as I went to raise my right hand, I realised I couldn't. The shark had clamped its jaws over my wrist too. I then tried to jab it in the eye with my left hand, but on the angle it was holding me I couldn't reach. Instead, I madly lunged to heave its head off me, but that only served to push the teeth of its lower jaw deeper into my flesh.

Finally, summoning every iota of strength I possessed, I punched it on the nose, as hard as I possibly could.

That seemed to really piss it off, and it started shaking me, its teeth working like a saw on my limbs. That's when the pain started. Then it pulled me down under the water. We surfaced back up again together and I gulped for air, not knowing if I'd get another chance. At that moment the shark pulled me under a second time, shaking me again like I was a rag doll. Then it must have lost its grip because suddenly I was free.

When a bull shark attacks, there's usually more than one of them lurking, so I knew I had to get out of the water quickly or I was going to be torn limb from limb and eaten alive.

I couldn't feel my right leg but it wasn't until I started swimming freestyle to get away that I looked up – and saw that my hand was no longer there.

I felt I had no chance of getting out of the water alive, but I was determined that this bastard wouldn't finish me off. All my life I'd been getting into trouble and then out of it again, living the infantry's mantra: improvise, adapt and overcome.

For years, those three simple words had helped push me through some of the toughest challenges I could ever have imagined. And after staring death – with its hungry eyes and razor-sharp teeth – in the face, I was as sure as hell not going to give up on it now . . .

ISBN: 9781921518577
ISBN-10: 192151857X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 2nd May 2011
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.1  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 22.8
Edition Number: 1