Teen Who Lost Leg In Shark Attack Faces Her Fears to Be a Better Advocate for Sharks

·2 min read

Paige Winter is facing her fears to help keep the world's sharks stay safe.

In 2019, Winter, then 17, was attacked by a shark while swimming in waist-deep water at Atlantic Beah in North Carolina. The "horrific" encounter left Winter with "deep lacerations to her leg, pelvic, and hand areas," the Atlantic Beach Fire Department told PEOPLE shortly after the attack.

Due to the severity of the attack and the injuries she received, Winter's left leg was amputated above the knee. Winter's father, Charlie, kept the attack from getting worse by punching the shark until the animal let his daughter go.

Even after everything she has endured, Winter has remained a fierce advocate for sharks and conserving shark species. Shortly after her attack, Winter expressed her lasting respect for sharks and all other sea creatures.

"Despite this unfortunate circumstance, Paige is an unwavering advocate for the marine life and the animals who live in the water. She wishes for people to continue to respect sharks in their environment and their safety," Winter's family shared in a statement obtained by ABC News following the teen's attack.

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Winter's entire shark attack story and how she has continued to speak up in support of sharks is explored in the new SharkFest special Shark Attack Investigation: The Paige Winter Story, which premieres July 12 on National Geographic.

In the show, experts explore the details of Winter's shark attack to see if they can determine the species of shark responsible and help prevent similar attacks from occurring.

Both Winter and her father face their understandable fears about coming in close contact with sharks and meet their first shark since Winter's attack in the special.

PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at this encounter. In the clip above, Winter and her father meet a nurse shark and speak about what it is like to be near one of these creatures again.

"I love nurse sharks so much. I think they are so neat," Winter says in the video. "I think once I get more used to my prosthetic leg and gain more skills with it, I'd be super open to go and actually touch a shark."

To learn more about this amazing shark advocate and shark attack survivor, watch the premiere of Shark Attack Investigation: The Paige Winter Story on July 12 on National Geographic at 10 p.m. EST/ 9 p.m. CST. The special will also air on Nat Geo WILD on August 6 at 10 p.m. EST/ 9 p.m. CST and will be available to stream on Disney + starting July 16.