PADI is ecstatic to collaborate with award-winning photographer, activist, and PADI AmbassaDiver Mike Coots to create a co-branded PADI Gear Signature Shark Collection.
Get To Know Mike Coots
Mike Coots is many things: a surfer, award-winning photographer, and passionate shark advocate. All of this started for him when he survived a shark attack.
Growing up in Hawaii as an avid surfer, Mike was attacked by a tiger shark as a teen while bodyboarding off the coast of Kauai.
He lost his right leg and nearly lost his life.
Happy to be alive, Mike was eager to get back outdoors and into the ocean as soon as possible.
However, as he recovered, it would take months of surgeries and rehabilitation to get used to life with his new prosthetic limb before he could get back into the water. Unable to surf, he had to find something else to pass the time.
That’s when his attention turned to photography. He enrolled in photography school and very soon became an accomplished outdoor photographer, both on land and from the water.
In time, he would return to the water, re-learning to surf with his new carbon fiber prosthetic leg.
Looking back on his experience, he realized the importance of ocean conservation and the role that apex predators play in maintaining the delicate balance in the marine ecosystem.
He became a vocal advocate, dedicating his life to protecting the species that nearly took his life.
Nowadays, Mike is busy lobbying lawmakers on shark protection legislation and sharing compelling imagery on social media with the hopes of shifting the stigma around sharks. And when he’s not, you can find him diving or riding the waves on his custom surfing prosthetic leg.
Give Sharks A Chance
As part of our collaboration with Mike, PADI has created a co-branded clothing and gear line – the PADI Gear Signature Shark Collection. This limited edition collection features Mike’s original photography, and each item is made from sustainable materials like recycled plastic bottles.
PADI is committed to ocean conservation and the protection of sharks.
As part of our collaboration with Mike, PADI will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each item in the collection to organizations that work to protect our oceans and the animals that call it home.
15% of the proceeds from this collaboration will go directly to Mike’s favorite conservation organization, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, to fund localized protection of an essential biosphere for white sharks.
You can help make a difference by shopping the collection and getting your hands on some stylish, ocean-friendly gear – all while supporting a great cause.
Protecting Sharks Locally
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaiʻi is a grassroots, nonprofit organization based on Oʻahu with a mission to inspire local communities to care for their coastlines. They do this through fun, hands-on beach cleanups, educational programs, waste diversion services, public awareness campaigns, and helping others organize their own beach cleanups.
Keystone species, like sharks, and other marine life, face the risk of ingesting plastics and entanglement by abandoned fishing gear.
By working to eradicate plastic pollution, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaiʻi is reducing the risk to both marine life and overall ocean health.
Through the use of social media and other educational tools, they hope to inspire better consumer behaviors to turn them into stewards of the marine ecosystem.
The branded merchandise from this collection supports PADI’s mission to Seek Adventure, Save the Ocean, as well as the commitment to marine animal protection and increasing awareness of sharks around Shark Awareness Day and Shark Week.
This beautiful line of planet-friendly accessories and apparel features original photographs by Mike Coots of some of the most emblematic shark species.
Plus, you can rest assured that PADI Gear product suppliers are chosen with an emphasis on the importance of eco-friendly materials, zero waste policies, and strict water and energy reduction standards to minimize their overall carbon footprint.
Want to save 20% off on this amazing apparel? Join PADI Club to get your discount code today!
Mike Shares More on His Relationship with Sharks
We were lucky enough to get the chance to ask Mike Coots some questions so he could tell us about how his passion for sharks started and his work to protect them.
Here are his answers to our questionnaire:
Describe your relationship with the sharks. What do they mean to you?
Name: Mike Coots
Title: Photographer and marine advocate
Favorite place to dive: Fuvahmulah, Maldives
Certification date/level: 1992-Age 13/Open Water
Favorite Shark: Great White
Losing a leg to a shark changed my life instantly, and I would not have wanted it any differently. After the attack, I learned a lot about what sharks were doing to humans and had no idea what we were doing to sharks or why we need them for a healthy ocean. I feel compelled in my unique situation to be a voice for sharks and to champion for their protection.
Sharks are intelligent, beautiful, graceful, powerful, and elegant. They have personalities, social structures, and curiosity, all traits that I love and find fascinating. As a subject for photography, there isn’t another muse like it on earth. The perfect model.
Tell us about the moment you knew you had to start fighting for sharks?
About halfway through the documentary Sharkwater. It was a total defining moment when on-screen the number flashed 80,000,000 sharks a year. That’s how many sharks are killed annually for shark fin soup. I had no idea and instantly felt compelled to help.
There are many ways to go about advocating for the protection of sharks + the oceans. How did you choose your approach, and why?
It’s using my talent as a photographer to share visuals of the beauty and brains of sharks that Hollywood won’t show you. To shift that narrative. And to use the irony of my attack story, if I can love sharks, so can you.
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?
Meeting with US Congress advocating for the passage of the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and creating a petition of over 40,000 signatures to the US Secretary of Commerce for the expansion of Papahanaumokuakea, which then became the largest protected area on Earth.
Why did you choose Sustainable Coastlines as the beneficiary for this initiative?
As sharks are a big casualty of plastic pollution, it made sense to partner with a group of passionate ocean lovers doing trash cleanups at beaches in my home state of Hawaii. If we can prevent plastic from entering the ocean, then we can prevent a huge killer of wildlife like sharks from the deadly microplastic.
Why did you partner with PADI, and what do you hope to achieve?
PADI is the vessel with the tools to open our eyes and hearts to the undersea world. We tend to protect things we can see, love, and feel. PADI provides the knowledge to make that connection happen.
What do you hope your images of sharks convey?
That there is much more to a shark than a set of teeth. They are both brawn and brains, full of beauty. That we need these majestic animals for a healthy ocean and planet. To get others out there and explore an undersea world with a healthy shark population. That we can and we must coexist. Not only does their fate require it, but so does ours.
What things do you do in your personal life to save the sharks/ocean that other folks can easily do?
If you eat seafood, be informed of where it comes from. What is the bycatch of what you are eating, and make informed consumer decisions based on that. Sharks are a huge bycatch for many fisheries, even here in the USA. Reduce plastic use, pick up beach litter, and don’t consume shark fin soup or cosmetics that use shark products.
If you could change one consumer behavior, what would it be?
Eat less seafood.
Why are you concerned about the future of sharks?
With the decline of sharks and the important, indispensable function they play, our oceans WILL collapse. And without a healthy
ocean, we won’t have a healthy planet.
For those budding underwater photographers out there, what is your advice?
Don’t get too caught up in photo gear, and spend more energy seeking out amazing, fun dives. Enjoy the process of creating and share your love of the undersea world with others. The power of image sharing has the ability to change mindsets and create action that can save our seas and all their wonderful inhabitants.
Our community of divers is listening… what key message do you want to share?
Our ocean’s health is at a critical junction, and as a lover of the sea, you have a voice to ensure its abundance. No one has your talents or experiences but YOU. Find what that talent is, use that, and not run but sprint with it and future generations of ocean lovers will thank you. And so will the tiniest plankton to the largest whale, as their very existence will depend on you and your unique contribution.
Sharks: Celebrate with PADI
July is the month for celebrating all things sharks.
We start with Shark Awareness Day on July 14th and follow with Shark Week, usually held at the end of July. Be sure to join the month’s celebrations with PADI, and let’s spread a new perspective on sharks as top ocean predators that play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem that benefits us all.
This one-of-a-kind collection is designed to celebrate both the beauty and brawn of a shark, providing a balanced perspective counter to how sharks are often portrayed in the media. This eco-friendly gear solves real issues facing the sharks’ watery homes.
Join the PADI Torchbearer movement to learn more about sustainability or connect with like-minded people who care about our ocean planet.
Visit padi.com/onebillion to see all of the ways you can take action to protect sharks and the marine ecosystem.