Shark Attack! How to Live to Swim Another Day

You’re on your way to that long-awaited vacation that you’ve been planning for months. While there’s plenty to see and do there, it’s likely you’ll be spending some time at the beach and in the water. One thing in the back of your mind may or may not be sharks. But if you’re going to a shark-friendly area like Florida’s Atlantic coast, you have to be prepared. Here’s what to do should you come face to face with Jaws or his distant cousin.

Don’t panic. If you’re swimming, and happen to see a suspicious fin heading toward you, try to stay calm. Splashing around and moving erratically will attract the shark and spark its interest. Because the shark wants to check you out, and he has no arms or legs, he has to do it with his mouth. This is why some people bitten by sharks report small, exploratory bites.

Fight back. If a shark is right up in your face, punch away and go into fight mode. Many people say you should punch a shark in the nose, but keep in mind the nose is super close to the mouth. One wrong move and it’s over! Try attacking the gills. Have a snorkel or camera? Use it as a weapon to fight back. It may scare the shark enough to have him back off for good.

Look him in the eye. Never take your eyes off the shark. When you look away, he will automatically see this as an opportunity. Sharks often take some time before attacking their prey. They circle as they assess when and how to attack. Look the shark straight in the eye and pivot your head to maintain your stance. This could help thwart a sudden bite.

You’re braver than you look. Try to look big, not like a small, vulnerable fish in the sea. This may intimidate the shark. Don’t huddle up into a ball and play dead. Make yourself appear bigger and stronger than you really are.

Back away slowly. The main thing on your mind is to flee and get out of the water. But before you flip around and quickly head back to the sandy shore, don’t make any sudden moves. The shark may take this as a hint you are his dinner trying to get away. He will go into primal kill mode. Back up real slow as you make your way to the shore.

Whether it’s the warm sunny beaches in New Smyrna Florida or a beach tucked away in the land down under, always be cautious of sharks. Attacks and encounters can be scary, but you can survive it by being shark savvy.

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