Avoiding Sharkbites at the Beach
Discovery Channel's Shark Week is over thank goodness.
I don't enjoy watching TV documentaries of crazy things divers do to lure and photograph sharks. I would prefer to enjoy my time at the beach, thank you, instead of hearing the Jaws theme in my head every time I step into the surf.
“Only about a dozen of the more than 300 species of sharks have been involved in attacks on humans,” NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)said on its website. “Sharks have been known to attack humans 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.”
There have been shark bites all up and down the US Atlantic coast this year - Virginia Beach, North and South Carolina beaches, and of course Florida beaches. In early August, Volusia County, Florida reported the seventh and eighth suspected shark bites, beach safety officials said. There have been 17 suspected bites statewide, according to the International Shark Attack File, operated by University of Florida. County, Florida, which includes Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. No fatalities have been reported, most were minor lacerations.
More Shark Attack Prevention
- Always stay in groups since sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual.
- Do not wander too far from shore — this isolates an individual and additionally places one far away from assistance.
- Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.
- Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound. A shark's olfactory ability is acute
- Wearing shiny jewelry is discouraged because the reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.
- Avoid waters with known effluents or sewage and those being used by sport or commercial fisherman, especially if there are signs of bait fishes or feeding activity. Diving seabirds are good indicators of such action.
- Sightings of porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks — both often eat the same food items
- Use extra caution when waters are murky and avoid bright colored clothing — sharks see contrast particularly well.
- Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep dropoffs — these are favorite hangouts for sharks.
- Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present and evacuate the water if sharks are seen while there. And, of course, do not harass a shark if you see one!
- If you are attacked by a shark, a proactive response is advised. Hitting a shark on the nose, ideally with an inanimate object, usually results in the shark temporarily curtailing its attack. Try to get out of the water at this time. If this is not possible, repeated blows to the snout may offer a temporary reprieve, but the result is likely to become increasingly less effective. If a shark actually bites, we suggest clawing at its eyes and gill openings, two sensitive areas. You should not act passively if under attack as sharks respect size and power.
- Divers and swimmers probably can reduce the chance of an interaction with a shark by avoiding bright swimwear (especially yellow) or dive gear. Recommend use of dark blue or black fins, mask, tank, and wetsuit while diving.
Relative Risk of Shark Bites to Rip Currents
Relative risk of shark bites to rip currents (2004-2013)
Rip Current Rescues 341,294
Rip Current Fatalities 361
Shark Bites 379
Shark Bite Fatalities 8
Source: International Shark Attack Files, Florida Museum of Natural History
You should have no trouble avoiding shark bites at the beach this summer
Go ahead and enjoy yourselves, but be smart and cautious!