16+ Shark Attack Tips. Shark Research: Myths, Facts, Safety, Surfing

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Shark Safety Tips: The relative risk of a shark attack is very small but should always be minimized whenever possible. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends the following shark safety tips about what to do and what not to do:

  • Close To Shore Part 1: CBS News recommends that you stay in groups and don’t wander too far from shore because this would isolate you and decrease your chances of being rescued.
  • Close To Shore Part 2: NOAA states that shark attacks, though rare, are most likely to occur near shore, typically inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars, where sharks can become trapped by low tide, and near steep drop offs where shark’s prey gather.
  • Sunrise / Sunset (No, not the version from Fiddler on the Roof): Don’t go in the water early in the water or in the dark/twilight hours when sharks are most active. Since sharks are nocturnal, one of the best ways to avoid sharks is to stay out of the ocean at dawn, dusk, and nighttime. Sharks move inshore during these hours to feed because most fish go through to focus in the changing light during sun up and sun down.
  • Can’t See, But Can Smell: You can’t see sharks, they can’t see you: But… while sharks also don’t have the best vision, they have a great sense of smell. So they will be more likely to confuse a human for its natural prey when visibility is low. Also note that while sharks can’t see very well, sharks detect contrasting colors.
  • Don’t Be Attractive: Don’t wear shiny jewelry in the water because it resembles fish scales in the water. Avoid bright colored clothing.
  • Don’t Be ‘Chummy’ Part 1:  If fishermen are chumming the water near you (such as a pier or jetty) try to avoid the area. Also locations such as river mouths, harbors or even sewage, can attracts bait fish, which in turn attract sharks.
  • Don’t Be ‘Chummy’ Part 2: Don’t swim where there are seals. Seals are white sharks’ preferred food, so there’s a good chance there’s also a shark in the water observing them from a distance. Even though humans aren’t on the shark’s menu, is it worth the risk?
  • Don’t Be ‘Chummy’ Part 3: Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding.
  • Vacate… Promptly: Leave the water as efficiently, calmly, and swiftly as possible if a shark is sighted. While many sharks will not bite again, you cannot rule out a second attack.
  • Do Not Touch: Do not provoke, harass, or entice a shark, even a small one.
  • Trust Your Lifeguards: Swim or surf at beaches patrolled by lifeguards, and follow their advice.
  • Look For Signs Part 1: That includes signs on the beach that warn you.  Don’t go in the water if sharks are known to be present so heed those shark warnings.
  • Look For Signs Part 2: If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. They may be behaving like that because there is a shark in the area.
  • Look For Signs – Bonus Tip: A fin up is a danger sign.
  • Give Up Your Catch: If you are shore fishing, kayak fishing or diving and are approached by a shark, stay as still as possible. If you are carrying fish or other catches, release the catch and quietly leave the area.
  • Don’t Be Splashy: National Geographic says, “Don’t splash too much. Refrain from excessive splashing. Keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are attracted to such activity.
  • Protect Your Dog: The splash of a dog paddling is like a dinner bell for sharks. Do not take your pet with you in waters where there is even a remote chance of encountering a shark.
  • Don’t Panic (Ha!): This may seem difficult when you are attacked by a shark, but most shark attacks result in injuries that are readily survivable and clear thinking is your most powerful asset in an emergency. A wild heartbeat and erratic movements can increase a white shark’s curiosity. Take a deep breath…
  • Stop The Bleeding: If bitten, try to stop the bleeding. Control bleeding by pressing on pressure points or by applying tourniquets.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Since a sharks’ mouths have infectious microbes, treatment by a physician is always indicated even if the wounds seem relatively minor.

Bonus Shark Safety Tip: Note that sharks most often attack individuals. A friend I was surfing with told me his secret to shark safety, “Always swim or surf with someone who is ‘slower’ than you are.” No wonder he always asked me to go out for a session with him.

A little tune, just to get you in the mood…

Fighting Back A Shark Attack: If you are attacked, don’t go for the nose, the best thing to do is go for the eyes or gills. Be as aggressively defensive as you are able. ‘Playing dead’ may possibly work for bears but it does not work for sharks. Pound the shark in any way possible.

Coffee, Tea Or Me? NOAA reports that just a dozen of the more than 300 species of sharks have been involved in attacks on humans. The bigger problem is humans attacking sharks: Humans hunt sharks for their meat, internal organs, and skin in order to make products such as shark fin soup, lubricants, and leather.

Sharks evolved millions of years before humans existed and therefore humans are not part of their normal diets. Sharks are opportunistic feeders, but most sharks primarily feed on smaller fish and invertebrates. Some of the larger shark species prey on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals.

Sharks attack humans only when they are confused or curious. If a shark sees a human splashing in the water, it may try to investigate, leading to an accidental attack. Still, sharks have more to fear from humans than we do of them.

Sharks Are Important: Sharks are a valuable part of marine ecosystems, but overfishing threatens some shark populations. NOAA Fisheries conducts research on shark habitats, migratory patterns, and population change in order to understand how to best protect and maintain a stable shark population.

What Are The Odds Of A Shark Attack? According to The International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the longest-running database on shark attacks, the chances that a shark will attack you are one in 11.5 million. To put that into context, your chances of drowning are 1 in 3.5 million.

Sometimes It Is Good Not To Be Number One: Florida leads the nation in shark attacks followed by Hawaii then California.

Shark attacks By US State
Last updated: January 23, 2017
State Total Attacks
Florida 778
Hawaii 153
California 120
South Carolina 92
North Carolina 63
Texas 42
Oregon 27
New Jersey 15
Georgia 13
New York 10
Alabama 8
Virginia 5
Delaware 4
Louisiana 4
Massachusetts 3
Mississippi 2
Washington 2
Connecticut 1
Rhode Island 1
Maine 1

Shark attacks By State: California (Last updated: January 23, 2017)

County Total Attacks
San Diego 17
Humboldt 16
Monterey 11
San Luis Obispo 11
Santa Barbara 11
Marin 10
San Mateo 9
Sonoma 8
Santa Cruz 7
Los Angeles 6
San Francisco 5
Orange 4
Del Norte 2
Ventura 1
Alameda 1
Mendocino 1

Shark attacks By State: Hawaii Last updated: January 23, 2017
County Total Attacks
Maui 63
Oahu 39
Kauai 26
Hawaii 19
Molokai 2
Open Ocean 1
Lanai 1
Johnston Island 1
French Frigate Shoals 1

More shark safety tips from the state of Hawaii.

Shark attacks By State: Florida Last updated: January 23, 2017

Last updated: January 23, 2017
County Total Attacks
Volusia 290
Brevard 134
Palm Beach 70
St. Johns 40
Duval 36
Martin 35
St. Lucie 32
Indian River 21
Monroe 16
Miami-Dade 15
Broward 14
Pinellas 12
Bay 9
Collier 8
Lee 8
Sarasota 7
Flagler 6
Escambia 6
Nassau 4
Manatee 4
Okaloosa 3
Gulf 2
Franklin 2
Walton 1
Charlotte 1
Santa Rosa 1

The state of North Carolina has had 63 shark attacks. Even the state of Washington has had two attacks and Maine has had one shark attack.

“Although the trends show shark bites are increasing in frequency, this is mostly due to more people using the oceans than ever before,” Andrew Nosal, Ph.D., a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told CBS News. “Actually, 2014 was quieter than average with only 52 unprovoked bites in the USA, with none being fatal.”

The shark safety information was compiled from the following sources:

go to the 1:11 second mark to see shark.