Bethany Hamilton Survives a Shark Attack

In 2003, the world was captivated by the incredible story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer whose life changed forever when she was attacked by a shark off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. At just 13 years old, Hamilton’s love for surfing and her promising future in the sport were suddenly jeopardized by this traumatic event. But instead of letting it define her, she showed immense courage and resilience, becoming an inspiration to millions around the globe.

The shark that bit Bethany Hamilton was identified as a 14-foot tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier). Tiger sharks are known for their large size, aggressive nature, and preference for coastal waters. They are apex predators, often at the top of the food chain, and have a reputation for being one of the most dangerous shark species.

On the fateful day of October 31, 2003, Hamilton and her friend Alana Blanchard were enjoying a morning surf session at Tunnels Beach. In an unimaginable instant, a tiger shark attacked Hamilton, severing her left arm just below the shoulder. The force of the attack was so powerful that it took a significant amount of her blood, putting her life in immediate danger.

Miraculously, Hamilton managed to stay conscious and alert throughout the ordeal. With the help of fellow surfers, she was quickly brought ashore and rushed to the hospital. Thanks to the immediate medical attention she received, her life was saved. However, her journey was far from over.

The road to recovery was challenging for Hamilton, both physically and mentally. Learning to adapt to life with one arm was an immense struggle, especially for someone whose passion and dreams revolved around surfing. But with unwavering determination and the support of her family and friends, Hamilton defied the odds and returned to the water just a month after the attack.

Her remarkable comeback story not only inspired the surfing community but also caught the attention of the world. Hamilton’s resilience and positive attitude garnered widespread media coverage, turning her into a symbol of hope and perseverance. She became an ambassador for adaptive sports and an advocate for shark conservation, using her platform to raise awareness about the importance of respecting and protecting these creatures.

Hamilton’s journey didn’t end with her return to the water. She went on to compete professionally and achieved remarkable success, winning numerous surfing competitions and becoming a role model for aspiring athletes. Her story was further immortalized in the 2011 biographical film “Soul Surfer,” which introduced her to an even wider audience.

Today, Bethany Hamilton continues to inspire people of all ages with her story of resilience and determination. She serves as a reminder that no matter what challenges we face, we have the power to overcome them and achieve greatness. Hamilton’s strength and unwavering spirit serve as a beacon of hope, reminding us all that we are capable of overcoming even the most daunting obstacles.

Bethany Hamilton’s encounter with a tiger shark in 2003 forever changed her life. Despite the tragedy and the loss of her arm, she refused to let it define her. Instead, she turned adversity into opportunity, becoming an inspiration to millions worldwide. Her story reminds us that no matter what we face, we can find the strength within ourselves to rise above and achieve greatness.

Did They Get The Shark That Bit Bethany?

The authorities were able to capture and identify the shark that bit Bethany Hamilton. A family of fishermen, led by Ralph Young, caught and killed a tiger shark approximately one mile from the site of the attack. Upon examination, they discovered surfboard debris in the shark’s mouth. Additionally, they confirmed that the size of the shark’s mouth matched the dimensions of Bethany’s broken board. In 2004, the police officially confirmed that the captured shark was indeed the one responsible for injuring Bethany.

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What Happened To The Shark That Bit Bethany Hamilton?

The fate of the shark that bit Bethany Hamilton in 2003 is not explicitly known. After the attack, the shark swam away, and there is no information available regarding its subsequent actions or whereabouts. It is important to note that sharks are wild animals and their behavior cannot be predicted with certainty.

What Kind Of Shark Was In Soul Surfer?

The shark depicted in the movie Soul Surfer was a tiger shark. This particular tiger shark was approximately 14 feet long, which is equivalent to 4.3 meters. It is important to note that the shark attack on Bethany Hamilton, the real-life surfer portrayed in the film, was carried out by a tiger shark.

During the filming of scenes that occur after the shark attack, the actress playing Bethany Hamilton, AnnaSophia Robb, wore a green sleeve on her left arm. This was done to aid in the post-production process where her arm was digitally removed. By using this technique, the filmmakers were able to realistically depict the aftermath of the shark attack on Bethany’s arm.

The type of shark portrayed in Soul Surfer was a 14-foot tiger shark. The film utilized special effects to accurately depict the physical injuries sustained by Bethany Hamilton, with AnnaSophia Robb wearing a green sleeve on her arm during filming, which was later digitally removed in post-production.

How Old Was Bethany Hamilton When She Got Bitten By A Shark?

Bethany Hamilton was 13 years old when she was bitten by a shark while surfing in Kauai in 2003.


Bethany Hamilton’s story is one of incredible resilience, determination, and triumph over adversity. Despite losing her left arm in a horrifying shark attack at the young age of 13, she refused to let it define her or hold her back from pursuing her passion for surfing.

Through sheer willpower and countless hours of hard work, Bethany not only learned to adapt to surfing with one arm but also became a professional surfer, proving that nothing is impossible with the right mindset and unwavering dedication.

Beyond her remarkable achievements in the surfing world, Bethany has also become an inspiration and role model for countless individuals worldwide. Her story of overcoming obstacles and never giving up has resonated with people of all ages, encouraging them to face their own challenges head-on and never lose hope.

In addition to her surfing career, Bethany is also an accomplished writer, sharing her experiences and life lessons in her autobiography and other publications. Through her words, she continues to inspire and motivate others to embrace their own uniqueness and find strength in the face of adversity.

Bethany’s journey serves as a powerful reminder that life may throw unexpected challenges our way, but it is how we respond to them that truly matters. Her story is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the limitless potential that lies within each of us.

Bethany Hamilton’s remarkable story of resilience, determination, and triumph is a shining example of courage and perseverance. Her unwavering spirit continues to inspire and empower others to overcome their own obstacles and live life to the fullest.

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William Armstrong

William Armstrong is a senior editor with, where he writes on a wide variety of topics. He has also worked as a radio reporter and holds a degree from Moody College of Communication. William was born in Denton, TX and currently resides in Austin.