With more and more people enjoying the beach each year, the chances of unprovoked shark attacks are on the rise. According to the Florida Museum of National History, there was a total of 98 unprovoked shark attacks last year. It was the highest on record, surpassing the previous high of 88 recorded in the year 2000. Scientists claim sharks usually attack humans out of curiosity. So if you find yourself in shark-infested waters here is how to increase your chances of surviving a shark attack.
Reduce the Risk
- Don’t swim with open wounds. Sharks are attracted to blood. They can smell blood a quarter mile away so if you have a cut or anything that’s bleeding, stay out of the water.
- Don’t swim alone. Sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual. When headed into the water try to stick with friends.
- Don’t wear shiny jewelry. Sharks interpret the reflections from jewelry as fish scales.
- Don’t wear bright colors. Any high contrast color apparel or gear used in the water is especially visible to sharks.
- Don’t swim at dusk, dawn or even night. It might feel great to swim when the sun isn’t beating down on you but that makes it harder for sharks to identify you as a human and not a snack.
- Don’t swim near fishermen. If you see people fishing near you then forget about getting in the water. Fishermen put chum in the water to attract fish and with that sharks too!
- Don’t be an idiot. Don’t get in the water if the area is known to have sharks and evacuate the water if sharks are seen while there.
If you happen to see the shark before it attacks don’t take your eyes off it. To be able to defend yourself you have to know where it is at all times. There is a good chance that the shark won’t mess with you so stay calm. If you are close to the shore get out of the water as quickly as possible without splashing around. If you thrash around in the water it will attract the shark’s attention. Remember you won’t ever out swim a shark so don’t ever block the shark’s path or give it your back.
Let’s say you out in the middle of the ocean when you see these not so friendly guys and you can’t quickly get out of the water. Try to limit the possible angles a shark can get to you. Slowly back up against a reef, or ledge so that the shark can’t come from behind you. If possible, get back-to-back with another swimmer or diver. This way you’ll have a 360 view and can defend yourselves against attack from any direction. Grab a weapon. Obviously a sharp knife or harpoon will cause enough pain to frighten away the shark but any inanimate object like a camera or rock will help.
Do or Die
So it’s time to show him who is boss. If you don’t have a weapon, improvise. Usually, a hard hit on the head will cause it to live you alone.If you have nothing around you, use your own body. Aim directly to the shark’s gills, eyes or snout (end of its nose). Fight with your fists, elbows, knees, and feet. Remember not to wind up before a hit. Water resistance will just slow you down. Instead repeatedly hit with hard, sharp jabs.
Continue to do so until the shark lets go and swims away. Don’t play dead as this won’t discourage an aggressive shark. It will just assume you are an easy meal to finish off. Don’t ever lose sight of it. You stood up to the shark and he let you go. Awesome. But just because he swims away doesn’t mean you’re out of the clear. Shark sometimes leave just to regroup before another attack.
If there are people nearby, call out calmly, but loudly, for them to come to you. If you aren’t being attacked, stay still until help has arrived. Thrashing will attract the shark’s attention and if you have been bitten, thrashing will make you disperse your blood. Remember not to panic so your blood does not pump faster. Swim quickly, but smoothly. Do the smooth reverse breast stroke, which involves less splashing.
Once you are out of the water get medical attention asap. If you’ve been bitten, substantial blood loss could occur, so immediately try to stop the bleeding. Even if your wounds appear minor, it’s important to get yourself checked out.