How to Avoid Being a Victim of a Shark Attack
I’m sure you’ve heard this before: shark attacks are extremely uncommon and rarely fatal. For instance: there were 79 shark attacks in 2010, but how many people do you think swam in the ocean? Millions? Billions? Even then, just 6 out of those 79 attacks were fatal. Out of all the people that enjoyed ocean-related activities last year, only 6 unfortunate people died. Most shark attack victims have nothing but some scrapes to show for it and will go on to live normal lives. But if you’re having trouble putting your fear of sharks aside, here are some things you can do to further decrease the likelihood of sharks attacking you.
Shark attacks can happen just about anywhere, as sharks are concentrated along the coasts of just about every continent except for perhaps Antarctica. They can also happen in water of any depth, but particular favorite spots seem to be drop-offs (where the water all of a sudden starts to get deep) or areas between sandbars, so take extra caution in these areas.
Some places are obviously bad choices for swimming
This should be a no-brainer: If you’ve heard about a recent shark attack in a specific area, stay out of the water! Obvious feeding places are also probably bad ideas for swimming, surfing, or diving. These include areas near fishing boats, where the smell of dead fish may attract sharks; swimming where birds are diving into the water, indicating a large concentration of the yummy fish that sharks also like; and swimming near seals or sea lions, a favorite food of big sharks.
Swim when & where you can see
Avoid swimming at dawn, dusk, or in darkness when possible, and stay out of murky water. Sharks prefer to take advantage of poor visibility to surprise their victims, and they are also more likely to confuse you for something they actually want to eat.
Stick with a buddy (or two or three)
Stay close to a friend. As in, within ten feet. The incidence of shark attacks seems to be inversely related to how close a person is to another person and how many people are in the area. It’s cliché, but there truly is safety in numbers.
Choose boring swim gear
When choosing your swimwear, you may want to avoid wearing bright and/or contrasting colors. Contrasts aren’t entirely avoidable since your skin likely contrasts with your bathing suit, but is something to think about when picking out a wetsuit, SCUBA gear, or a surfboard. Don’t wear shiny jewelry into the water, either. Sharks may confuse it with the shine of fish scales.
Even if you don’t take all of these precautions all (or any) of the time, remember that your risk of a shark attack is still extremely low. Your efforts for self-preservation would be better spent on driving more carefully to the beach as your car ride is likely to be the most dangerous activity of your day. Of course, there is also the remote possibility that a person who does take all of these precautions may still be attacked. Though the idea of a shark attack is terrifying and the occurrence is unspeakably tragic, the bottom line is: don’t let a fear of sharks get in the way of having a good time.