These Tips Will Help You Survive A Shark Attack

Sharks are one of the most feared creatures that inhabit planet Earth. The worst thing that many swimmers and surfers can imagine while out in the water are shark attacks. After all, these dreaded animals are not only known as vicious killers that mercilessly hunt down their prey but they are also terrifying in terms of their appearance. A sleek design and rows of sharp teeth make them look like nightmarish monsters, especially when compared to most other fish.

Luckily, there are plenty of tips on how to survive a shark attack. Even if it is a fairly rare event, it is important to know what to do when being attacked by a shark, as any encounter could easily prove serious. It is not uncommon for those who have been bitten to die from their injuries or lose limbs. If you ever swim in waters that could be home to sharks, these handy tips could save your life.

  • First Things First: Know How To Monitor Your Beach

    Understanding where is safe to swim and where shark attacks are more likely to happen is something that will ensure that most people going into the water will be out of danger. Most beaches around the world will have safe areas marked that swimmers should use. Most also utilize a flag warning system that uses color-coded banners to keeps people informed about whether any sharks have been spotted or if you should stay out of the sea.

    Red means serious currents and tides; swim at your own risk. A white flag with a black shark means sharks have been sighted: you must get out of the water. 

    There are even a number of websites and apps online that track sharks. They tag the fish and report sightings to help people understand where there might be places where they are congregating.

  • Know When Sharks Are In Their Mating Season

    Know When Sharks Are In Their Mating Season
    Photo: Albert Kok / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    It is also important to understand the mating season of sharks because they can get much more aggressive during that time. Each species of shark is different in terms of when they will be in heat so you should research the ones that you are most likely to encounter at your holiday destination, as there is evidence that attacks from sharks increase when they are looking to mate.

    The problem of aggression in male sharks during mating season is so bad that even females great whites will try to avoid them completely for as long as possible.

  • Determine Whether The Shark Is Attacking You Or Just Being Curious

    The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File makes it clear that it is important for anyone who encounters a shark to understand whether they are about to be attacked. Many sharks might approach humans swimming near them in a non-aggressive manner. Instead, they will be curious and want to investigate, something they often do via touching.

    According to the ISAF, you will know a shark is about to attack if it is:

    “making rushes at you, hunching its back, lowering its pectoral (paired side) fins, swimming in a rapid zigzag course, or swimming with rapid up and down movements (sometimes rubbing its belly on the bottom).”

  • Before Fighting A Shark, Try To Back Away Calmly

    Before Fighting A Shark, Try To Back Away Calmly
    Photo: janderk / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Although your first instinct might be to try and fight the shark or quickly swim away, these actions should be avoided if possible. Violent splashing may provoke an attack from the shark, meaning it is best to try and leave the area where the animal is in a calm manner.

    The Florida Museum of Natural History recommends that “the best strategy is to leave the water - swim quickly but smoothly, watching the shark all the time.” This will offer the best way to get out of the situation without any danger.

  • Try To Use Any Available Object To Arm Yourself

    Try To Use Any Available Object To Arm Yourself
    Photo: Pterantula / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    It is always better to try to arm yourself with any objects rather than use your hands and feet. The reason for this is obvious – they are susceptible to injury and will be more attractive to the shark. Experts recommend using anything that could be used as a weapon.

    This could include oars, cameras, diving equipment, or even a surf board. These can be used to hit the shark in the face to try and force it to retreat.

  • As A Last Resort, Claw At Its Gills And Eyes

    If there are no makeshift weapons that can be used, the last resort would see any potential victim using their own body. Punching and clawing at the shark’s eyes and gills can be particularly effective because they are so sensitive and tender. While the nose of a shark is also sensitive to attack, it can be dangerous to attempt to hit it as it is very close to the mouth of the animal.

    In the case that the shark bites you it is best to thrash about as much as possible to try and startle it into letting go and moving away.