How to Survive a Shark Attack
In real life, unlike in the movie Jaws, sharks don't approach with a distinctive "duh, duh... duh, duh" soundtrack. They attack so suddenly, their victims rarely see it coming.
However, that doesn't mean that there's no way to avoid an attack. Experts say that if you take the right precautions, your risk of being attacked is minimal. In fact, each year around the world only 100 people are attacked by sharks (and 25 to 30 are killed), according to NOVA. Compare that with 30 to 100 million sharks that are killed by humans each year, and you'll see who's really at risk.
Even so, shark attacks are scary. So, the next time you're at the ocean, what can you do to help stay safe?
How to Prevent a Shark Attack
Clearly, the best way to survive a shark attack is to keep sharks away from you in the first place. Here, seven tips to help reduce your risk of becoming prey.
Heed warnings from officials. When a 14-year-old was attacked by a shark in Brazil, authorities said he had ignored posted signs warning of shark attack dangers.
Don't swim after a heavy rain. Australian authorities warn swimmers and surfers of going out after a heavy rain because bull sharks, in particular, are more active in muddy waters.
Don't go out alone. Sharks are less likely to strike a group of people, according to information compiled by the International Shark Attack File, which records all known shark attacks.
Don't swim while it's dark or during sunset. Sharks are more active during the evenings. In addition, they have a unique eye structure that allows them to see in dim light.
Stay out of the water if you have an open wound. Sharks have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. According to NOVA, they can detect one drop of blood per a million parts seawater. Once they notice the scent, they follow it until they find the source.
Don't wear shiny jewelry or bright colored clothes. The light reflecting off jewelry could like the fins of a fish to a shark. Sharks can also see contrast very well, which is why they like bright colors, according to the International Shark Attack File.
Don't provoke a shark. It sounds like common sense, but the International Shark Attack File says that of the 112 shark attacks that occurred in 2007, 20 of them were provoked by people (for instance, a diver who grabbed a shark).
How to Survive a Shark Attack
What if the unthinkable happens and a shark comes after you? What do you then? In that case, try to remember these five words of wisdom.
Back up. If you see a shark approaching you, get your back against the ocean wall, a reef, a pile of rocks, a friend, or diving partner. This will minimize the number of angles the shark can attack you, according to the International Shark Attack File.
Fight back. A diver in Australia was able to fight off a great white shark by hitting it with his spear gun, according to news reports of the incident. Don't play dead; show the shark that you can defend yourself.
Aim for the eyes or gills. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook says the shark's eyes and gills are the areas most sensitive to pain. It suggests hitting the shark with anything in your possession, including a camera or your own fist, in these pain-sensitive areas.
Find a tourniquet, if bit. Surfers are at greatest risk of attack because they spend the most amount of time in the water. They're told to carry a three-foot long surgical tube to use as a tourniquet in the event of an attack. The surfboard leash or any other length of material can also be tied above a bite to stop the bleeding, if necessary.
Get out of the water. Even when fought off, sharks will often return, especially if they can smell blood. Get into a boat or to shore as quickly as possible.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Hotter Temperatures Linked To Kidney Stones
- 2. Summer Bug Bites: What to Look For
- 3. Skin Health Advice with Dr. Kenneth Beer
- 4. Summer Safety Tips That Every Parent Needs To Know
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.