Sharks Gain Surprising Allies

When sharks and humans spar, the sharks don't get much sympathy.

"It came towards me I just kind of balled up in a fetal position," said one shark attack victim.

That's why nine shark bite victims made a splash on Capitol Hill today, urging congress to protect the animals that attacked them, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

"You would think that we would all hate sharks," said Debbie Salamone, a shark attack victim.

Especially when you consider their stories.

Salamone's Achilles heel was severed off Cape Canaveral, Fla. in 2004.

Al Brenneka was attacked while surfing down the coast in Delray Beach.

"When I put my arm down, he was coming up," Brenneka said.

The lifelong fisherman didn't always feel as charitably towards sharks as he does now.

"I did kill a couple sharks, taking revenge and stuff like that, but that was in the very beginning before I started to learn about sharks," Brenneka said.

What he learned was that a third of shark species are threatened with extinction. An estimated 100 million sharks are slaughtered every year - three quarters of them just for their fins, to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy.

"Most shark species just can't reproduce fast enough to sustain the type of commercial fishing that's going on for them," said Neil Hammerschlag, a shark researcher at the University of Miami.

The nine survivors want Congress to close a legal loophole that some fishermen have exploited to get around the shark finning ban.

"I have a perfect shark's tooth scar there and a gash there," said Chuck Anderson.

Anderson, now an avid triathaloner, has come to terms with his injury and his attacker.

"I went into that shark's territory," Anderson said. "I decided to go out in his domain."

And even in that domain, the ocean's mightiest predator is now facing the greatest risk.
  • Nancy Cordes On Twitter»

    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.

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