— -- Hunter Treschl and Paul de Gelder both lost limbs to sharks while swimming in the ocean but that did not stop them from heading back into shark-infested waters.
Treschl –- who lost his left arm to a shark while in waist deep water –- and de Gelder -– a former Australian Navy diver who lost his right arm and leg to a shark during a military exercise -– swam amidst sharks in an experience that was filmed for “Sharks Among Us" for Discovery Channel’s “2016 Shark Week.”
It was de Gelder, Discovery Channel’s marine conservationist, who invited a somewhat reluctant Treschl, 16, on the journey. The invitation came just six months after Treschl’s shark attack last summer off the coast of North Carolina.
“Initially it wasn’t something I was too keen on,” Treschl, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, said today on “Good Morning America.” “But...I started thinking about it as this is not so much getting back in the water with the shark that bit my arm off but more so it’s like this great experience that not everybody gets to have."
Treschl and de Gelder call the incidents that caused their injuries “shark encounters” instead of attacks. Their dive with sharks for the Discovery Channel was in conjunction with research underway by shark expert Dr. Craig O'Connell on the use of magnets to repel sharks.
“I don’t blame the shark and having had the experience to work with amazing people like Craig, you learn so much about the important role they play in the oceans and you learn to appreciate them more and more so I’m all for protecting the sharks,” de Gelder said.
Treschl added of the experience: “It was a bit kind of scary at first, I mean as you would expect, but that was like maybe the first two or three minutes and after that I really began to appreciate like, wow, these are some really cool animals and getting to see them up close is really awesome.”
Treschl and de Gelder first met last summer, just one month after Treschl was attacked in waist-high water while on vacation. De Gelder visited Hunter at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, where the teen's mother teaches.
The two chatted about their respective life-changing experiences and have remained in touch.
“Sharks Among Us” airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery Channel.