Being at the top of the food chain is a good thing – being in the middle is not so envied. For centuries, humankind has been baffled by creatures that occupy that coveted position, like sharks, lions, bears, and crocodiles. All in the hope that one day, they may learn from their majestic mien.
And for a long time surfers, skin divers and survivors of shipwrecks find themselves prey to a lot of meat hunting underdogs of the water, most notably the sharks.
But what is the reality of sharks and surfing? Let’s look at the real world picture of shark attacks and wave riders.
The Bigger The Size, The Bigger The Bite
At ten times the size of the average shark, the great white shark accounts for most shark attacks in the world. According to Florida Museum of Natural History, it accounts for close to about 35 % of all attacks, within a span of more than three centuries. This beats more than 400 species of sharks in ferocity, and aggressiveness, or to be more exact, beats a tenth of species who are more likely to attack a human being.
Still only four sharks are a real bother to a great number of surfers. These are the:
- Bull shark
- Tiger shark
- Oceanic whitetip shark
- Great white shark
However, here are 3 reasons why you may still manage to avoid shark attacks. Read on!
1. Sharks Have A Diversified Diet
Many sharks would rather follow a colony of sea lions, seals or even the smaller krill, which either have more meat, fatter, or larger in number than surfers who don’t frequent the oceans as other organisms do. The sea lions are closer home to the sharks, seals have a better shark diet, mainly fat, whereas krill and shrimps have a habit of migrating toward the surface when a shark is foraging. Surfers who surf at dusk, dawn or at night are more likely to suffer the harsher reality of sharks and surfing.
2. Sharks attack humans for self-defense, not for food
Sharks served with a decoy beginner surfboard have been shown to attack it mistaking it for a sea lion. Similarly, most of the bite marks recorded over time from sharks have come from bumps developed for self-defense, as compared to actual bites. This shows that sharks are not necessarily motivated to eat the surfers but to defend themselves in case of an attack.
Many sharks have been filmed underwater even without using a protective cage, as only a few have been involved in an unprovoked attack.
3. You Are Careful Enough
Being wild animals, sharks still have the predator’s instincts. The only trick to avoid shark attacks during a surf is being as careful as possible.
- If you are looking forward to a surf with several wounds blazing from your body, you might as well forsake the ride. Avoiding surfing when menstruating can also help to keep away the sharks.
- Sharks have been known to smell blood a half kilometer away! Avoid following anglers and fishing boats with their baits. The shark will not distinguish you from the bait from the anglers.
Sharks can mistake the shiny metals on surfer’s body as scales from fish. They can easily mistake you for a prey.
- Sharks frequent the drops off on the reef, seamounts, estuaries, and sandbars. Simply avoiding these areas can be a great security boost.
- Some sharks might be smaller than you but can still bite with ferociousness you can’t imagine. Avoiding being so friendly to fish in the water is a proper etiquette. Myriad sharks referred by common names of catsharks, lantern shark, and pygmy sharks are quite small. Reality is, you might prefer a shark to other fish.
- Sharks are fish. Their lateral lines sense even the faintest of change in water currents. They can hear you splashing you from afar. Keep your kick graceful, and splash less.
- Sharks have a good sense of smell. In murky water, they smell the faint smell of the intestine in the sewage and are attracted to it, just like any other predator. Mucky waters have less visibility. You might be able to see the shark zeroing in on you. It is important to wear some goggles to improve the visibility.
- Some sharks can show you when they are angry, so learn how read their signs. The bay reef shark, a common shark that might attack you near one of your favorite reef breaks, shows some very vivid threat display. Read those signs and back off. Unless you are having some shark repellent, surfing away is better than being its next lunch.
- A shark is an all-time predator and likes stalking preys that are on their own. Getting a buddy is a better option than surfing alone. There is nothing inviting to a surfer than having someone take your pics of your favorite air in surf moves.
Surfers who intend to strike shark-infested waters need to get prepared for it. Get an emergency response GPS tracker before you take your surfboard from the rack. A simple dive knife that can snug into your wetsuit can help you in more life threatening situational encounter of the reality of sharks and surfing.
If you have a basic awareness of their surroundings, you can use their keenness to avoid sharks without a hassle. Checking the movement of shark preys, avoiding surfing after storms, reading signs on the beach for shark warnings, can all help to avoid being in the statistics of shark lunch.
Shark Attack Is Phenomenal, Everyone Gets To Know About It
An attack by the beast of the ocean rings faster to the airwaves than one from a terrestrial animal. This is because the water predators are less known than the more common predators. Any such attack is therefore taken by the grapevines, gets distorted and knowing the truth can be hard.
Distinguishing the type of shark that is likely to attack you can be difficult unless you have some skills in distinguishing species or have taken the time to tour the area before the surf. Going for underwater photography can help you avoid those shark-infested parts of the waters.
Globo Surf Overview
Shark attack on surfers is minimal. But being on your toes when surfing can make your surfing experience less of a worry about shark attacks because the reality of sharks and surfing is not as grisly as it is painted. Nevertheless, some few species can make lethal attacks even when unprovoked and are best avoided by surfers.
If you prepare properly for your surfing adventure and get proper gear, you can ride the waves in areas prone to sharks and still manage to avoid them. Reading through the guide above and being aware of your environment will help you know their behaviors and enjoy your time in the ocean.