Shark attacks occur in the U.S. every year. The good news is that these attacks are rare. While scenes from Jaws might send chills down your spine and news reports citing thousands of swarming sharks have been sighted offshore are sure to leave many afraid to enter the water, the reality is that shark attacks are very rare occurrences. More people are killed or hurt each year by dogs, snakes, and even bees. Yet, sharks are the top predators in the ocean, and as such, they deserve some serious respect.
Here are some basic tips from our maritime accident attorneys to help you avoid a shark attack if you go swimming in the ocean this summer.
1: If a lifeguard issues a warning that sharks have attacked humans or have been spotted in the water, stay out of the water. While this may seem like common sense, many individuals who have been attacked by sharks have decided to go swimming in beaches where shark attacks recently occurred or where swimmers have been warned to stay out of the water.
2: Avoid swimming near piers or near places where people are fishing. Piers are notorious shark-magnets. Where there is fish bait, there will be fish. Where there are fish, there will be sharks. Many shark attacks occur not because a shark wants to enjoy a tasty human snack, but because the juvenile sharks often can’t easily distinguish easily between a delicious fish and a not-so-appetizing human arm or leg. Many shark injuries and amputations are the result of a young shark doing a “test” bite, to see if the prey it has found is good to eat. Sadly, these test bites can result in devastating injuries. By avoiding places where sharks may be feeding, you decrease the likelihood you’ll be put on the sampling menu.
3: If you do happen to be swimming in a place known to be shark habitat, dress in dull colors. Sharks are attracted to bright oranges and yellows. Sharks have trouble seeing prey when the prey isn’t brightly colored.
4: Stay alert. Whenever you’re swimming in the ocean, you are in wild territory. Be aware of your surroundings.
5: If you see a shark, don’t thrash around. Your first reaction might be to swim violently toward shore, but this might only draw the shark’s attention to you. Worse, the shark might think you are a wounded animal or fish and thus easy prey. Swim calmly, smoothly, and quickly to shore—without splashing around too much. Panic will only make you tired and less able to fight off the shark if you do happen to be attacked.
6: Swim in a group. Sharks are less likely to attack groups of swimmers or surfers than a lone swimmer or surfer.
7: Avoid swimming at dawn and dusk. Sharks feed during these hours and may not be able to tell the difference between you and another marine creature.
8: Don’t swim if you have an open wound. Sharks can smell blood for miles. Urinating in the water can also attract sharks.
Shark attacks are rare occurrences, but with some common sense and caution, you should be able to swim this summer with peace of mind.