Ten Tips to Avoid a Shark Attack

Even in areas with a relatively healthy population of sharks with a high ocean visitation, the risk of shark attack is extremely low. Ocean goers can minimize the risk of a shark encounter by following these tips.

Ten Tips to Avoid a Shark Attack.

  • Use the Buddy System or recreate in groups. Avoid swimming, snorkeling, or surfing alone. Sharks are more likely to attack when there is only one person in the water.
  • Avoid activity in areas with poor water visibility, such as near river mouths or after periods of heavy rainfall.
  • Don’t wear shiny objects like necklaces, earrings or watches. The glint from metal jewelry may resemble a fish and attract curious sharks.
  • Don’t splash or make erratic motions that might alert a shark.
  • Avoid water activity during dawn and dusk when large sharks, like tiger sharks, are active.
  • Stay away from prey like seals, sea turtles and large schools of fish. Sharks often hunt in large schools, and federal law requires maintaining distance from marine mammals and sea turtles.
  • Do not enter the water where active fishing is occurring, or where bait or other attractants are used.
  • Don’t wear contrasting swimwear. Sharks rely on their vision to hunt, and bright bands or contrasting colors can draw their attention. Wetsuits provide protection and camouflage wetsuits help spearfishermen blend in with the background.
  • Swim close to shore. Many sharks hunt along or inhabit the reefs edge or drop offs. Recreating near shore has the added advantage of a quick rescue in the event of an encounter.
  • Read the signs and respect the locals. Local people know when and where to enter the water, and are aware of recent sightings.
Stinson Beach

If You See a Shark, What Do You Do?

  • If you see a shark while in the water, keep eyes on and back away slowly. Call for help and warn others as you retreat.
  • Do not make erratic motion or sudden splashing. This can attract a shark.
  • Try to maintain eye contact by rotating with the shark. If you have a buddy, close up and watch the shark while retreating to shallow water or your boat.
  • If surfing warn others and point the board at the shark while backing away. Attempt to catch the first wave into shore.
  • Tell lifeguards or other public safety and warn others on the beach that you saw a shark.

If You Are Bitten by a Shark, What Do You Do?

  • If the shark is in attack mode try to fend off with your spear or hand at the end of the nose where the shark is most sensitive.
  • Strike at the eyes or gills until the shark releases you or turns away. Exit the water as safely as you can with the aid of others,
  • Seek emergency first aid. Apply a tourniquet like a board leash if necessary and treat for shock and blood loss.

When Shark Diving

  • When watching sharks from a boat, it is important to avoid making any erratic movements or splashing at the side.
  • Research operators for safety and comments on Yelp, Instagram or on the dock. Avoid sensationalist social media behaviors that can lead to injury.
  • Make sure a proper safety briefung is given, inclusing locations of emergency, first aid and safety equipment.
  • When diving with sharks it is recommended to wear a wetsuit or other covering to minimize abrasions.
  • A safety diver should always be assigned and present in the water with guests.
  • Shark adventurers should research the reputations of operators, including investigating sensationalist social media demonstrating fending off tiger sharks that have been attracted to the boat.
  • Avoid operators that aggressivley chum, bait or feed sharks. Although illegal in state waters, attracting sharks with chum or bait changes the shark’s behavior and can make them more curious or aggressive.

 Although the risk of a shark attack is low, humans present a much greater threat to sharks. It is estimated that humans kill around 100 million sharks per year through overfishing, shark finning, and as bycatch. The global overfishing or sharks has led to a decline in shark populations globally, with one third of all species facing the threat of extinction.

 Sharks are important members of marine ecosystems and maintain ecosystem balance and health. We can enjoy the ocean and coexist with sharks by following these guidelines and practicing prudent behavior.