Survival Skills: How to Survive a Shark Attack

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Summer is a great time to hit the beach, but a few East Coast beach goers have recently had their fun in the sun turn into a nightmare. In July alone, there have been at least five known shark attacks at South Carolina and North Carolina beaches. Even though shark attacks are actually quite rare, these animals still inspire fear in ocean waters, and the news reports tend to feed that fear. The number of attacks so far this year is still in keeping with the average annual number of attacks in the US.

Skip Feeding Time: The time of day has always been a factor in the likelihood of a shark attack on humans. Dusk, nighttime, and dawn are the most popular feeding and hunting times for sharks. Of course, an attack can happen at any hour of the day or night, but nighttime and its transitions are statistically the worst times to be in the water. It is believed by many that the lack of visibility during these hours makes it easier for the sharks to mistake you for one of their typical prey animals. Murky waters can play a similar role in cases of mistaken identity.

Don't Act Like Dinner: You don't need to dump a canister of shark-repellent (a real thing) into the sea when you take a dip, but it helps to be less attractive as a target. Since sharks tend to attack individuals, swim, dive or surf in groups and take advantage of "strength in numbers." Don't wear swimwear or wetsuits that are brightly colored or high-contrast, and leave the shiny jewelry at home. Yellow and orange garb might attract sharks, and shiny jewelry could be mistaken for the scales of a fish. Also watch your movement in the water. Playfully splashing around can attract sharks, as it resembles their prey in distress. And even if you are actually in distress, avoid erratic movements and splashing.

Fight Back: When a shark wants to eat you, you'll know in advance: It will hunch its back, lower its fins, and rush at you in a zigzag pattern. Thrust your spear gun, camera housing, dive knife, or anything else you're packing to discourage it. If you have a surfboard or body board, use it as a shield. If you are swimming and completely unarmed, punch the shark's supersensitive nose or stab at its eyes or gills. If the shark bites into you and begins to drag you underwater, don't play dead or give up. Get aggressive and do some damage to the shark. It might just let go.

Have you had a run in with a shark? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

(Photo via Wiki Commons)

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