A couple of years ago I went on an adventure travel trip to South Africa which included cage diving with white sharks. It was a thrilling experience, but all I could think as I watched those big ol beasties glide by was that I didn’t stand a chance if we met outside that cage.
And while that may be true, there are some things you can do to mitigate the chances of shark attack and to defend yourself in the event that you do find yourself paddle-less and up fecal creek.
Firstly, stay out of shark-infested waters, especially after dark as sharks prefer to dine after sundown. Also avoid lagoons where river water drains into the sea. Sharks often congregate here to scoop up prey as it washes out and the murky water may lead to a case of mistaken identity.
No flailing about. If you see a fin, try to remain calm and swim smoothly to shore. Erratic thrashing will only make you seem like startled prey and while this may be an accurate description, try to keep your cool.
Try to face the shark if it is circling while moving ever closer to the shore. If there are other swimmers nearby, get back to back and take a defensive position while moving towards the shore.
Ok, so it’s down to the wire and you’re out of options – your only defense now is attack. You punch that shark right in the nose and use your hands, feet and a rock, camera or other weapon you can find. Go for the eyes and gills, which are very sensitive and give it all you’ve got. Keep fighting even if it bites you and don’t stop until it lets go. Then get to the shore as fast as you can.
Put pressure on wounds as soon as you are out of danger.
It’s important to keep the likelihood of shark attacks in perspective so that these beautiful creatures aren’t needlessly persecuted. You are more likely to be killed by the following animals than you are by a shark:
Mosquitos: 655,000 deaths annually
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