Survival Skills: How to Survive a Shark Attack
We have all seen the movies, whether it was Jaws on the silver screen in the 1970’s or the shark marathons Sci-Fi runs during shark week, and sometimes on the weekends, in the height of summer when everyone is flocking to the beach for some fun in the sun. The water always turns red, and many beachgoers are massacred, usually, by a great white shark, that has us all fearing to venture even into the shallows at our local beaches.
Knowing where it’s safe to swim and where it isn’t, is your first line of defense against a shark attack. Monitor the beach you’re on closely for signs posted that say you shouldn’t be in the water. Most beaches around the world have a flag system that warns swimmers when it’s unsafe to swim and where it’s safe to swim at. Some even have flags that tell you if a shark has been spotted in the area and warns you to get out and stay out of the water. Today, there are even apps for your phone that can tell you if sharks have been spotted in the area, you are about to swim in.
Avoid the Mouths of Rivers
The mouths of rivers tend to attract sharks, especially after a heavy rain or storm, because that’s when the smaller animals are washed through. It’s also a good idea to avoid deep drops, areas between sandbars and channels, as well as swimming way offshore.
Don’t Swim Around Fishing Boats
In many cases, fisherman leave trails of fish guts and blood trailing behind them, which attacks hungry sharks. Swim far away from fishing boats when you are in the water, to avoid being mistaken for a fish.
Stay Away from Large Groups of Seagulls and Dolphins
While dolphins are the natural predators of sharks, smaller dolphins can be eaten by larger sharks. Stay away from any large groups of seagulls and dolphins, as they eat the same food that sharks eat. This means that sharks could be lurking under the surface in these areas looking for food. They can’t tell you from the fishes, so you are fair game if you’re in the area. Avoid the Water at Dawn, Dusk, and Night
Many species of sharks move in closer to the shoreline right before dawn, and dusk, and during the darkness. Sharks are equipped well to spot prey, regardless of the light conditions. In other words, they will be able to see you, but you won’t be able to see them. It’s best to avoid the water at these times, for safety’s sake.
If Something Brushes Against You…Get Out
There have been reports of people getting bitten by sharks and not realizing it until they got out of the water, or were attacked again. It has been reported that shark victims often don’t feel pain, so if you feel something brush up against you while in the water, get out and check to make sure you haven’t been bitten.
Swim in Crowds
It’s never a good idea to swim anywhere along, to begin with, but it’s definitely not good to swim alone in the ocean. Swimming alone puts you away from the crowd and makes you an easier target for a shark attack, it also puts you further away from assistance if you are attacked.
Never Wander Away from Shore
Wandering away from shore not only puts you away from help if needed, but it also isolates you, making you a perfect meal for a shark lurking under the surface of the water.
These are just a few of the ways to avoid being attacked by a shark, whether it’s a great white or another species. Following these tips should keep you safe, but they, of course, aren’t foolproof solutions. There have been times when people followed all the safety tips and still found themselves face to face with a monster from the deep. So, what do you do in that case? Read on below as we show you the best ways to fend off, and survive a shark attack.
Okay, so this one may be a little hard to pull off when a two-ton creature with rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth is staring you in the eyes, but it’s important, so pay attention. If you spot a shark fin or know there is a shark circling you, it’s extremely important not to panic. The last thing you want to do is start screaming and flailing around. Flailing to the shark looks like a fish and he will attack faster than he will if you just keep still.
Think about it, we have hands with which to pick things up to explore them, the shark doesn’t. The only way he can explore is by taking a small bite. Flailing and jumping around will prompt a shark to attack to see what you are. So, not panicking in the beginning when a shark is circling you, might just end in the shark swimming away and you not being bitten at all.
Try to Maintain Eye Contact
Sharks are by nature ambush predators, meaning if you swivel with the shark and keep eye contact, it won’t be near as comfortable taking a bite out of you as it would be if it could sneak up on you from behind. Remember, however, don’t flail about or swing your arms and legs, instead turn slowly.
Don’t Play Dead
There are conflicting tips out there on this one. Some experts say to play dead, while others say not to play dead. The fact is that a shark is not a bear, and when it decides to attack, it is going to go for the fatal blow. Once the shark has decided to attack, you need to fight like you are fighting for your very life, because you are.
Slowly Back Away
Before the shark attacks and you begin to fight for your life, try to slowly back away from the shark. Don’t ever turn your back on the shark and start swimming frantically, because that will end in him attacking. Try to keep the shark in sight at all times, as you start backing slowly towards the shoreline. Never, think that you are safe once you reach the shallows because large sharks can and will attack in very shallow depths as well. While this probably won’t do you much good, according to some experts, it’s still the best thing to try before taking the shark on in a fight.
Fight Back, but Fight Smart
When all else fails in a shark attack, it’s time to fight back. Remember, you are fighting for your life here, but you want to still fight smart. It’s best to stick with short, direct jabs so you hit the shark as much as possible. You hope here is to land as many punches as possible, in a short time, to scare the shark away.
Go on the Defensive
The first place to be during a shark attack is in the open water. This makes it possible for the shark to come at you from any angle. If at all possible, get your back up against something, so the shark can’t attack you from behind. If there are two of you stranded with the shark, then try to line up back to back, so you can see an approaching shark. It’s important to note that you cannot outswim a shark, no matter what the movies might show you.
Call Out for Help
Without thrashing around and flailing your arms and legs, call out for backup from nearby boaters and swimmers. Even if they can’t reach you right away, the people on shore will know that you are in trouble and come to your rescue, as soon as possible. It’s better for people to know, so they can try to help than it is to have them wonder what happened to you.
Fight with Any Object You can Find
Pick up anything you can find to fight the shark with. If you were on your surfboard, pick it up and whale away at the shark. If you are diving, take off your snorkel and hit him with it, or your underwater camera. The point is, that you don’t need to kick out with your feet or punch the shark with your hands if you have other options. If you have nothing with you, then fight as hard as you can, by punching the shark in the eyes and gills. With the gills, you have to be careful though, as they are really close to the mouth of the shark.
Fight Till the Bitter End
The one thing you should never do is give up the fight. Giving up and playing dead will not make the shark just turn around and leave. If he has a hold of you, there is very little chance that he is just going to let go and swim away. You have to do everything you can to make him think, you aren’t worth eating.
Try to Stop the Bleeding
If you are bitten, try to staunch the bleeding before you ever leave the water. Leave the water as calmly, efficiently and quickly as you can, without thrashing around. While many sharks will only bite once, and then go on their way, there’s no way to know if they will attack a second time. No matter, how small your injury is, you need to call for medical attention right away, after all, there are very few small injuries associated with shark attacks.
Tips for Helping a Victim
Maybe you aren’t the shark attack victim, but someone else is and you’re not sure how to help. The first thing you need to do is make sure the shark isn’t still in the area, then get the victim out of the water as soon as possible. While you are still in the water, start trying to stop the flow of blood. Once on shore, wrap the victim in blankets to stop them from getting cold, as they will probably be in shock. Once you are on the shore, try not to move the victim any more than you have too. Call for medical help right away.
These are just a few of the top tips out there for preventing and surviving a shark attack. While the chances of being attacked by a shark are rare and slim to none, it has been known to happen. With these tips at least you have a fighting chance. Happy Swimming, everyone!
- Seeker: 7 Tips for Surviving a Shark Attack
- National Geographic: How to Survive a Shark Attack
- Discovery: 20 Ways to Avoid a Shark Attack