How to Survive a Shark Attack and not end up as a dinner. If you spend a lot of time in the ocean and are concerned about shark attacks, learning how to survive a shark attack can mean the difference between life and death in this terrifying circumstance. You’ll want to know how to survive a shark attack if you find yourself in the thick of a Sharknado or simply in open water on a beach trip.
Sharks don’t like the taste of humans, but their poor vision and the splashing of beachgoers can cause sharks to mistake you for something they’d rather eat. What to do if you see a fin slashing through the water and the Jaws theme starts playing? Swimming near river mouths and fishing boats is best avoided, according to shark expert Richard Peirce, former chairman of Shark Trust. According to Peirce, any scale of fishing activity is a magnet for sharks since hooked fish bleed into the water and attract sharks. Even a small fishing boat will throw dead fish and fish pieces into the ocean, known as chum.
Allowing yourself to bleed or urinate in water is likewise a terrible idea for the same reason. And, if possible, avoid swimming in the ocean in the early morning or late at night. According to Peirce, most shark attacks occur during these periods because sharks have a lower vision and can mistake humans for prey. Continue reading to discover shark attack statistics, how to fight off a shark, and how to avoid being attacked by an apex predator.
Shark Attack Statistics
When the Discovery Channel airs its annual Shark Week programming, we are reminded of our infatuation with sharks, the apex predators with the destructive force of a table saw. What is the appeal? Shark expert and former Australian Navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder believes that obsessing over sharks and their potential to rule humanity in open waters is simply human nature. “It’s the fear of the unknown,” says de Gelder to Mental Floss. “It’s the fear of an unknown animal eating you alive.”
On average, there are 19 shark attacks per year in the United States, with the majority occurring in Florida, with only one fatality occurring every two years (five fatalities per year worldwide). While shark attacks aren’t common, they happen frequently enough that individuals who spend a lot of time in the ocean are always looking for ways to keep sharks at bay. According to the Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File, only 129 assaults occurred in 2020. There were 57 unprovoked assaults, defined as “an attack on a live human occurring in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark.”. In many situations, these assaults resemble test bites, with sharks using their mouth to investigate the possibility of something being meal.
How can sharks be kept at bay?
“Shark repellent” is a liquid extract prepared from putrefied shark carcasses that is sprayed in the water when a shark is suspected to be close. The theory is that surrounding sharks will smell their dead companions and decide not to devour you. It works very well, according to Mythbusters, but these sprays are pricey and make the water around you smell like, well, a dead shark, so it’s not ideal for a pleasant day at the beach.
Other techniques, such as the Shark Shield, use electromagnetic fields to deter sharks. When sharks come into contact with these fields, their electrical receptors cause them to suffer tremendous agony, causing them to flee the area uninjured. Again, these have been shown to be somewhat successful, but they cost upwards of $800 and are primarily utilized by deep-sea divers or commercial fishermen. To be honest, people cause far more harm to sharks than they do to us since we hunt them for soup, oil, and leather.
How to Survive a Shark Attack?
Stay calm if you come into contact with one of the most lethal killing machines on the planet. Splashing around wildly will just thrill the shark and pique its attention. It has no desire to eat you, although it may become intrigued.
You may be a seal or a giant fish, for all the shark knows. Unfortunately for you, sharks can only interact with things through their razor-filled teeth, so splashing around may result in a “exploratory bite.” Here’s what else you can do once you’ve regained your composure:
- Maintain eye contact with the shark while still facing it. Put your back to something, like a coral reef, if possible. Sharks are ambush predators, and they may lose interest if you demonstrate that you are aware of their presence.
- If it appears to be passing by, curl up into a ball. This makes you appear smaller and less capable of competing for food in the region with the shark. Make yourself as big as possible if it’s making a beeline for you.
- According to ISAF’s George Burgess, if a shark actually captures you in its mouth, “I recommend being as actively protective as possible. ‘Playing dead’ is ineffective. Pound the shark in any way you can think of. Claw at the eyes and gill holes, which are both quite sensitive.”
- If you’ve been bitten, try to stop the bleeding. Leave the water as quickly, gently, and effectively as possible. While many sharks will not bite again, a second assault cannot be ruled out.
- Attempt to swim back toward the beach.
If the shark attacks, George H. Burgess, head of the Florida Program for Shark Research, recommends putting something between yourself and the shark if possible. It is sufficient to use a surfboard, boogie board, or flotation device. Strike the shark wherever you can as it makes a move at you. This will scare the shark and allow you to get out of the water. If the shark bites you and won’t let go, stab the shark hard in the eyes or gills, which are particularly sensitive. As soon as it lets you free, make your way to shore and seek medical assistance.
Tips for Lowering Your Risk of Shark Bites
Although the relative chance of a shark attack is very low, dangers in any activity should always be minimized wherever possible. These strategies can help you lessen your chances of seeing a shark:
- Sharks are more likely to approach a solitary human, therefore always travel with a companion.
- Do not stray too far from the shore. You are also cut off from any emergency assistance because you are so far from shore.
- When inhabiting the region between sandbars or near steep dropoffs, use cautious as these are popular hangouts for sharks.
- Avoid swimming during low light hours (dawn or dusk) and at night, when many sharks are active and feeding.
- Sharks have never been demonstrated to be drawn to the smell of human blood; however, if you are bleeding from an open cut, you should avoid swimming. See also Menstruation and Sharks.
- Shiny jewelry should be avoided since the reflected light may imitate the sheen of fish scales.
- Avoid sites with known effluents or sewage, as well as those used by commercial or recreational fisherman, especially if there are signs of bait fish or feeding activity. Diving seabirds are strong markers of the presence of these species.
- Avoid using water that has been used by recreational or commercial anglers.
- Sightings of porpoises or dolphins do not rule out the presence of sharks, as they frequently consume the same foods.
- When the water is cloudy, use additional caution because some shark species have just as much difficulty seeing as you do.
- Avoid uneven sunburn, brightly colored and/or highly contrasting apparel; sharks are particularly sensitive to contrast.
- Avoid excessive splashing, especially in one area. Sharks can hear low-frequency splashing sounds and may explore to determine whether there is a distressed fish or prey.
- If sharks are known to be present, do not enter the water. If sharks are spotted, exit the water slowly and gently.
Surviving a shark attack is possible, contrary to popular belief. It’s best to be prepared if you spend time in the ocean, even if shark attacks are rare. So, if you ever find yourself swimming with a shark, keep these suggestions and methods in mind. If you see a shark in the area, get out of the water at away. If the shark attacks you, protect yourself by grasping the animal and striking the shark’s eyes, gills, and nose.