I remember going swimming as a child in the many lakes that were around our city. My imagination would run wild whenever a weed would touch my foot. I would imagine that it was some type of deadly animal or a shark. Yes, a shark in a mountain lake. I realize how dumb that sounds but I had quite the imagination as a kid.
That got me thinking, this week is Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week. If I were in the ocean and encountered a shark, what would I do? (Or even if I found myself in an encounter with one of those fresh lake mountain sharks.)
Actually, shark attacks are pretty rare. Statistically, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning and dying. In 2011, there were only 75 shark attacks worldwide.
However, here at The ReadyNation, we always want to be prepared and ready! So, we decided to highlight some things you could do to survive an encounter with a shark!
Where to swim
According to the International Shark Attack File, the majority of shark attacks occur in the United States in Florida, Hawaii, California, South Carolina and North Carolina. It’s best to avoid drop off areas - that’s most likely where sharks are found. Also, avoid areas where there are a lot of commercial fishermen. They tend to throw leftovers into the water which attracts a lot of sharks.
But it’s my favorite color!Be a safe buddy
When you go swimming, go with a friend. Avoid swimming at dusk or at night. Sharks don’t have the best vision, so when it’s dark, they might mistake you for dinner.
Sharks vision depends on contrasting colors. So, if you have a brightly colored swimsuit, you’ll probably stand out more.
You’re going to have to hold it
Avoid peeing in the water. Just like blood, your fragrant urine will give off a scent that can attract sharks.
Is this a friendly shark?
Great whites, tiger and bull sharks are those most responsible for human attacks. A hammerhead shark is less likely to attack a human.
Tune into the animal kingdom
If you see fish and turtles quickly leaving the area, that’s a good sign that danger is around. You should probably get out of there too.
Circling and Zigzagging
If the shark begins to circle you, it’s time to get defensive. That means it’s about to strike. If the shark is swimming in a zigzagging motion that means it’s trying to find an angle of attack.
You probably won’t be able to outswim the shark. So instead of freaking out and splashing everywhere, try to calmly swim to safety.
Keep your eye on the shark
An attacking shark may try to sneak up on you. At times, they may even retreat and come back when you’re not expecting it. Try to keep an eye on the shark to make sure you know what it is doing.
Try and reduce the angles that the shark can attack you from. Use a rock or reef to defend a side of your body. You can even go back-to-back with another swimmer so that they won’t be able to sneak up behind you. Interestingly, sharks don’t really like bubbles so if you have scuba gear, try and make bubbles with your air.
Make sure that the shark sees you as a strong threat. If you feel like the shark is going to attack you, try and hit it in the eyes, gills or nose.
Get out of the water
This seems like a “no duh” comment but try and get out of the water. Try and swim quickly yet smoothly toward a boat or the land. If a boat is near, call out calmly but loudly that you need help and ask them to come to you. Once the boat is next to you, quickly get on board. If you have to swim toward the boat or the shore, avoid thrashing. The erratic behavior might give the shark the idea that you are wounded.
Shark attacks will typically create a lot of blood loss. So, if you get bitten, take immediate measures to stop the bleeding. Even if the wound appears minor, make sure to get it checked out.