Half of all Americans (51%) have said that they are terrified of sharks and 38% of Americans are scared to swim in the ocean because of them. Movies like “Jaws” and “The Shallows” have stricken fear into the hearts of many people around the globe and has painted a picture that depicts sharks as mindless killers.
Fortunately for us, sharks are not mindless killers. More Americans are killed by cows, horses, dogs, and insects than they are by sharks. In a study by the CDC “Wilderness and Environmental Medicine” only 8 Americans from the years 1999-2007 were killed by sharks.
Sharks are very curious creatures and are not afraid to approach people in the water. Sharks will not hesitate to swim uncomfortably close to swimmers/kayakers and sometimes the only way to steer them away is to poke them in the eyes, snout, or gills.
But in the rare event that you are attacked by a shark, follow these guidelines and it might just save your life one day.
What to do if a shark swims by you or approaches you
Sharks are not interested by you, but they are more interested in what you have or what you are doing. If this is the case, give them what you have and calmly leave the area. If you are in a kayak or paddle board, gently row away, do not splash the water. Noise and commotion will excite the shark and will propel it even more to attack you. The shark may even be threatened by your presence if you are in their feeding area. If a shark persists and does not leave, be prepared to get tough.
If a shark gets too close, use your paddle or hands, and push it away from you. Aim for its nose, gills, or eyes. Make yourself look big and do not turn away from it. Sharks, especially Great Whites, love the element of surprise; if it is taken away, there is a small possibility it may lose interest in attacking you. Be tough, and do not play dead or else you will be dead. Sharks like to feast on easy prey, if you are a difficult catch for the shark, it may lose interest.
What to do if you are attacked by a shark. Fight for your life
Whether you are swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, whatever. If a shark has decided to attack you, you will have to fight for your life. Hit the shark where it hurts (nose, gills, and eyes). Use anything you have as a weapon: a paddle, selfie stick, knife, or your hands. Claw like a madman and do not lose sight of the shark. While a shark’s nose is sensitive, you will want to avoid this area as much as possible, since its nose is the closest thing to its mouth. You cannot defeat a shark in a fight, you are only trying to buy time to show the shark that you are not worth the effort.
Get to Shore
Whether you are attacked by a sharo or only threatened, immediately make your way to the shore. Do not be loud or splash. Once you make it back to shore, find medical help immediately.
How to avoid running into a shark
- Do not go into the ocean alone
- Do not go into the ocean at dusk or dawn; these are hunting hours for sharks
- Do not wear bright colors or shiny objects; this can attract sharks to you and mistake you for prey (shiny objects look like scales)
- Respect their territory
Thanks for reading this article! If you are interested in more shark content, check out our article on Great White Sharks! Also, be sure to check out our other wildlife articles only on trailtrekca.com!
“In Case a Shark Attacks, Here’s How You Can Fight Back.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Aug. 2019, http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/tips-to-avoid-shark-attacks-trnd/index.html.
Thompson, Nick. “How to Survive a Shark Attack.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 July 2015, http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/shark-attack-how-to-survive/index.html.
Brunskill, Charlie. “How To Survive A Shark Attack: Survival UK.” The Real Survivalists, 11 May 2019, therealsurvivalists.com/how-to-survive-a-shark-attack/.
“Sharks: Half (51%) of Americans Are Absolutely Terrified of Them and Many (38%) Scared to Swim in the Ocean Because of Them…” Ipsos, http://www.ipsos.com/en-us/sharks-half-51-americans-are-absolutely-terrified-them-and-many-38-scared-swim-ocean-because-them.