By Nick Thompson and Forrest Brown | CNN
First things first: Despite some truly terrifying stories of survival, you’re incredibly unlikely to end up with a shark anytime soon.
But sharks sometimes attack humans. Florida teenager Addison Bethea was recently seriously injured. When a shark attacked him. In the waters off Caton Beach along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
And while this type of encounter creates an understandable fear among ocean swimmers, there’s no need to panic about your upcoming beach vacation. The chances of a shark attack are very low.
Florida Museum of Natural History International Shark Attack File There were only 73 confirmed, unprovoked shark bites and 39 confirmed, provoked bites worldwide in 2021.
Related: How to avoid snake bites – or better yet, avoid them.
In 2021, the United States led 47 unprovoked attacks. Florida had the state’s highest number at 28.
There are steps you can take to increase your chances of survival during the most unlikely attack, he said, according to shark experts interviewed by CNN Travel.
Before you get in the water.
Know your environment.
Sharks are saltwater creatures. The sea is their home. We are pilgrims.
“If you’re going to the ocean, you have to assume that you’re going to encounter a shark regardless of when or where it is,” says Neal, director of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at the University of Miami’s Rosenstein School. Hammerschlag said.
“Fortunately, humans are not on the menu, and fortunately, sharks also avoid people.”
Still, there are places where you’re more likely to encounter sharks.
River mouths are not the best places to swim.
Richard Paris, an author, shark expert and former head of the UK-based Shark Trust and Shark Conservation Society, said you should avoid beaches.
Their often murky waters are favored by bull sharks, which are the most likely to attack humans, along with great whites and tiger sharks.
“There’s a lot of attacks in the mouth of the river, where there’s silt and other material in the river — people washing their clothes, people washing themselves,” Pearce said.
Hammerschlag identified another area where collisions are most likely: the deeper channels between the beach and the sandbar.
Avoid fishing areas.
Before you jump into the ocean, take a look at the horizon: what do you see? If you see fishing boats, Paris says “forget it.”
“Whether the fishing activity is commercial or recreational, material will often be discarded, and unwanted dead fish, fish parts and fish guts are all littering the water and attracting attention from sharks. ” They said.
Before diving in, keep an eye out for unusual fish activity, such as a whole group of small and medium-sized fish jumping out of the water, Hammerschlag said. This is a possible sign that a shark may be nearby.
He also advises not to swim within about 50 yards of where someone is fishing from the shore.
Avoid dusk and dawn.
Swimming early or late in the morning can be beautiful, but these are also the times when shark attacks are most likely.
“Many shark attacks are cases of misidentification,” says Paris, “due to the shark’s lack of visibility and identification.”
Hang with the lifeguards.
Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, recommends “doing your homework” before venturing into unfamiliar waters. Bone up a little on the species you might encounter in different places.
If you have any questions, ask a local lifeguard. “They are a great resource,” he said.
“I always recommend people to go to protected beaches. It’s much safer,” he said.
Don’t wear shiny things in the water.
“Beware of jewelry, anything that sparkles because sharks are always looking for fish.” Lowe said.
In murky water, sharks may think the flash is a sign of food. “And you don’t want your hand or foot tangled with it.”
Follow your instincts.
“Probably the most important thing is to follow your gut,” Hammerschlag said. “If you feel wary about getting in the water … just don’t get in the water.”
“Many people who have been bitten actually said they had a strange sensation beforehand, like a voice inside them telling them to get out of the water and they did,” he said. Didn’t hear it,” he said.
If a shark is nearby.
So you’re being circled by sharks. The worst thing you can do right now is panic.
“Don’t start flipping around — you’re just going to pique, provoke and encourage the shark’s interest,” Pearce said.
Humans, monkeys, dogs and cats all have claws and hands. If we want to explore something, we pick it up and we touch it, we feel it, we put it in our nose.
“A shark has no claws or hands, so if it wants to find something, the only ability it has is to put it in its mouth,” Pearce said.
“That’s why we often get exploratory bites that don’t result in death and sometimes serious injury. If you swim and splash, you’re almost inviting the shark to attack you. Search or cut off the attacker”.
Maintain eye contact
As the shark swims around you, keep your head on a swivel and try to maintain eye contact.
“Sharks are ambush predators,” Paris explained. “If you’re walking around and facing it the whole time while it’s flanking you, it’s not going to be half as comfortable as it might be sneaking up from behind.”
Hammerslaug agrees, saying you should turn your body toward the shark so it knows you’re watching and following. Then slowly make your way back to your exit on a boat or shore.
If you’re surfing, track sharks with your board, Lowe said. “Tell the shark it’s being watched.”
Be big or be small
This is where it gets complicated. According to Pierce, if the shark is clearly in attack mode, you need to make yourself as big as possible in the water.
“The older you get in the water, the more respect you get,” he said.
But if the shark seems to be taking it easy, Paris suggests curling up in a ball.
“If the shark sees you as a competitor for its food source, that may be a reason to attack you,” he explained.
“If I didn’t want to see a great white shark as a competitor – and if he wasn’t showing massive interest in me – I would actually be bent on getting him to show even less interest in me. “
If you are being attacked.
Don’t play dead
It’s not a bear, it’s a shark. If you find yourself in an offensive matchup, give it hell: punch, kick and stomp at sensitive spots – but be careful where you aim.
“All this talk about punching a shark in the nose. That’s fine, but remember that right below the nose is the mouth,” Paris said.
“It’s a moving object in the water and you’re also not standing still, so what you don’t want to do is effectively get punched in the mouth or anywhere near it.”
A good shot to the gills can also do the trick: “The gills are very sensitive – it’s not a bad idea to hit a shark in the gills.”
Are you taking anything with you? If so, convert it to a weapon.
“If you’re a diver with an underwater camera, use it, if you’re a snorkeler, rip off your snorkel and use it to kill a shark,” says Pierce.
“I’ve had a lot of sharks come in, and it’s enough to use a shark cat – a small metal rod between two and three feet – and I just poke them on their nose a little bit.”
Lowe said it’s a good idea to swim with other people. Not only does it reduce the chances of an attack, but if you do get bitten, you’ve got someone to help you get to the boat or shore, he said.
Cut the corners.
If you’re a diver and you’re in trouble, try to get into a position where the shark can’t follow you, Pierce says.
“Keep your back like a coral reef. Then you only have one direction to look. For example, you’re protected from behind, and that enables you to keep the shark in front of you and be Maybe you can slowly swim up to the top of the rock to where your boat is.”
Displace the least amount of water. Try to swim slowly backwards towards the shore and not toss around.
“You should try to keep the animal in sight and try very slowly and gently and swim backwards into shallow water. Again, you have to be careful – big sharks can attack at very shallow depths. are.”
Doing the above can help to a degree, but Pearce says the chances of escaping unscathed when a large shark attack occurs are slim.
“If the white shark is in full attack mode, there’s not much you can do at that point,” he says.
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.