It is very rare for sharks to attack. However, when they do attack, severe, and in most cases, fatal injuries commonly result. According to scientists, sharks do not attack human beings to eat them; rather, they bite into the human flesh out of curiosity – they want to determine what kind of animal we are.
Avoiding shark habitats is the most effective way of avoiding shark attacks. However, if you often find yourself diving or surfing in shark-infested waters, learning how to survive a shark attack is important. In this article, you will learn what to do in a shark attack.
How to Survive a Shark Attack
1. Avoid Panicking and Sudden Movements Around the Shark
If you suddenly find yourself in the company of a shark after grabbing your scuba gear package and getting in the water, instinct will most likely tell you to relocate as soon as possible. You should resist this urge. Remember, you cannot out-swim a shark – hence, trying to splint to safety may not be the most ideal option.
Panicking will put the shark in the predatory mode. When swimming or diving with sharks, it does not necessarily mean that you are on the shark’s menu. As noted earlier, sharks are usually just curious. Hence, if you can keep yourself from panicking, the chances of getting attacked will be minimal.
If you were snorkeling close to the shore or your dive liveaboard is close to you, move slowly to safety. Avoid kicking or thrashing your arms while swimming. If you are standing between the open ocean and the shark, move away calmly – avoid blocking the shark’s path.
2. Maintain Eye Contact with the Shark
Just like your dog, sharks do respect assertiveness. This is why maintaining eye contact is on our list of what to do in a shark attack. Stay calm, keep your eyes on it, and show the shark that you are also a predator.
Keeping your eyes on the shark also helps you know where it is at all times. Sharks usually have varying attack technics. Sometimes, a shark will swim right up to you and charge. In some cases, the shark will circle for a while before attacking and sometimes the shark will sneak up from behind for the surprise attack.
To be able to defend yourself against the shark, you have to know where it is. For this reason, watch the animal even when working out the escape plan.
3. Get into Defensive Position
If you come across a shark after putting on your dive gloves and scuba tank, the best thing to do is to back away slowly without panicking. However, in some cases, you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot get out of the water right away. If getting out of the water immediately is not possible, getting into a defensive position should be on your list of what to do in a shark attack. The defensive position will help you minimize the possible angles of attack.
If you were scuba diving or snorkeling in shallow enough waters, keep your feet on the ground. Slowly back up against a rock, reef, or any other solid obstruction so that the shark can’t circle behind you. This way, you will only need to defend the attacks in front of you.
When scuba diving close to the shore, you may have to descend to find cover. Look for a rock or a reef at the bottom of the ocean. If you are diving in open water, get back-to-back with another diver so that you can see and defend against attacks from all directions.
4. Fighting the Shark
In the unfortunate event that you get attacked, learning how to survive a shark attack by fighting back is the best option. Hit the shark hard in the gills, eyes, or the snout – these are generally the most vulnerable areas on a shark and a hard blow to one of these areas could make the animal retreat.
If you carried your speargun or pole, use it. A sharp object is a good away to inflict pain on the shark to scare it away. Using the speargun, aim for the gills or the eyes.
If you do not have a weapon, try to improvise. For example, if you had carried your diving camera or you can find a rock nearby, use either to ward off the shark.
If you have nothing around you, you will have to use your body. Aim for the shark’s snout, eyes, and gills with your feet, knees, elbows, and fists. If you have to use your body, you need to note that sharks usually have surprisingly sharp and rough skin. Hence, try to use your feet since they already have more protection from the dive boots.
5. Escape and Get Help
Even if you manage to drive the shark away by fighting back, you won’t be completely safe until you get out of the water. A shark can leave temporarily and then return to continue with the attack. For this reason, if you are learning how to survive a shark attack for the first time, your ultimate goal when dealing with a shark is to get out of the water unharmed.
If a boat is nearby, call out loudly but calmly for them to come to you. Stay still while waiting if the shark is not attacking and then get into the boat as quickly as you can, once the boat is close enough.
If you are close to the shore, what to do in a shark attack is to swim smoothly and quickly. Thrashing will attract the attention of the shark. Use the smooth reverse breaststroke – which requires less splashing – to get to safety.
After getting out of the water, the first thing you will need to do is get medical help. If you have been bitten, take the necessary steps to stop the bleeding to avoid massive blood loss. Even if the wounds appear minor, you must get yourself checked out.
Q: How Do You Survive A Shark Attack?
If a shark attacks, fighting back is the best way to survive the attack. Using a weapon or your own body, aim for the shark’s eyes, gills, and snout – these are the most vulnerable parts. If the shark is not attacking, remain calm, maintain eye contact, and then back away to safety slowly.
Q: What Are the Chances of Surviving A Shark Attack?
The odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are very minimal. According to the International Shark Attack File kept by Florida Museum, the odds of dying from a shark attack are 1 in 3,748,067 – this is equivalent to 0.000026%.
Q: Do You Punch A Shark in The Nose or Eye?
The snout, gills, and the eyes are the most vulnerable parts of the shark’s body. Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to fight the shark, aiming for any of these parts could drive the shark away. However, if you have to make a comparison, you will do more damage by punching the shark in the eyes, compared to punching it in the nose.
Q: Do Shark Attacks Happen in Shallow Water?
Yes, shark attacks can happen even in shallow waters. Most shark attacks usually occur close to the shore or near the sandbars or shallow areas with nearby drop-offs since that is where the shark’s prey is often located.
Q: Can Sharks Smell Fear?
Sharks cannot smell fear. However, they can feel it. Using their super ability to sense electric impulses given off by the diver’s accelerated heartbeat, sharks can easily differentiate someone who has already panicked from someone who is not showing signs of fear.
Q: What to Do If A Shark Is Chasing You?
If a shark is chasing you, the first thing you need to understand is that you cannot out-swim the shark. Therefore, you should try to get in a defensive position and fight-off the shark by aiming at its vulnerable points (eyes, snout, and gills). Once you manage to drive the shark away, you can then start swimming towards the boat or the shore. Trying to out-swim the shark will put you in a very vulnerable position, allowing the shark to attack you from almost any direction.
Globo Surf Overview
If you regularly put on your wetsuit and get in shark-infested waters, knowing how to survive a shark attack is extremely important. While sharks rarely attack, you never know when you may find yourself in a situation where the shark is trying to bite you.
In this article, we have shown you what to do in a shark attack. Staying calm and moving away from the shark slowly is the best way to avoid a shark attack. However, if the attack happens, use a weapon, such as a pole spear, or your body to scare the shark away before getting to safety.