Shark Attack Tips & Prevention

Above: Shark Attack Video from Australia

Three shark attacks in three weeks in the same area is a lot–especially when the area is not known for shark attacks.

But when you dig a bit deeper into this topic it gets more interesting.

Did you know that one expert thinks that there an upside to the current economic down turn?

The total number of shark attacks declined from 71 in 2007 to 59 in 2008 (the fewest since 2003) according to George Burgess, who is the Director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida campus.

He said,
I can’t help but think that contributing to that reduction may have been the reticence of some people to take holidays and go to the beach for economic reasons,” Burgess said. “We noticed similar declines during the recession that followed the events of 2001, despite the fact that human populations continued to rise.Read more…

Each year I take a look at the International Shark Attack File and I love watching the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week because they get into the biology, behavior, threats, and other shark news.

Many people want to know how to prevent shark attacks and the shark experts advise a proactive response if you are threatened by a shark.

Proactive means hitting a shark on the nose (ideally with an inanimate object) which usually curtails the shark’s attack.

If threatened it is best to get out of the water.

If getting out of the water is not possible, multiple thumps to the snout may offer a temporary solution but increasingly becomes less effective.

Threats from sharks require active resistance (not passive actions) since sharks respect size and power.

Clawing at the eyes and gills are just a couple suggestions and you can find additional tips here:

To prevent a shark attack there are some common sense shark attack prevention tips you can take.

Avoid water at dusk, dawn and at night.
When I lived on the ocean I loved surfing early in the morning and at dusk. Night surfing during a full moon was also a favorite but I was always more nervous because diving, surfing and swimming during those times are popular hunting and feeding times for sharks. The reduced light might also cause a shark to confuse someone in a wetsuit for favorite prey species such as pinnipeds (seals and sea lions).

Avoid water sports where there are steep drop-offs, sandbars, reefs or that are in fishing areas. Murky waters and popular fishing areas are hunting areas for sharks hunt. If birds are diving for fish or if there are porpoises in the area there may be sharks hunting nearby as well. Many people mistakenly think that seeing porpoises means that sharks are not nearby–this is not true as both species often feed on the same prey.

No Blood in the Water
Avoid the ocean if you have an open wound or injury since blood can attract sharks from long distances. Many people encourage women to avoid the water during their monthly cycle. I never worried about it but read, does menstrual blood attract sharks?

Avoid Bright Suits & Jewelry
Sharks are attracted to bright colors and contrasts–so jewelry and bright clothing may attract sharks. Shark experts even talk about Yum, Yum, Yellow so being a little drab might be to your advantage.

No Excessive Splashing It Might Attract Sharks
Sharks are attracted to the erratic movements of injured prey or distressed animals so excessive splashing can also attract sharks. Calm, smooth movements are a better strategy for water play.

Don’t Be A Loner
The general rule of thumb is that you should never dive, surf, or swim alone since sharks often hit solitary individuals. Contrary to what many people think, sharks also do attack in shallow water so staying close to shore means that you can exit onto land quickly. If you need help, being close to the waters edge means assistance is nearby and that aid can arrive faster.

Pay Attention to Warnings
Shark sightings or warnings should never be ignored. Waiting until the warnings are lifted–as this is best for everyone. If sharks are present and you are in the water–get out.

Next I’ll talk a bit about some of the shark deterrents that are now on the market.

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