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How to Avoid Sharks

Three Methods:Avoiding Dangerous Swimming SpotsBeing a Safe SwimmerProtecting Yourself if You See a Shark

Believe it or not, sharks are some of nature’s most misunderstood creatures. Though sharks are such efficient, deadly predators that they have remained nearly unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, shark attacks on humans kill only a few people a year — statistically, you're much more likely to be struck by lightning or to simply drown swimming at the beach.[1] However, by using caution and common sense preventative techniques, it's possible to reduce your risk of a shark attack even further. Learn these simple tips today for a lifetime of safe swimming!

Method 1
Avoiding Dangerous Swimming Spots

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    Obey all posted warnings at the beach. The single best thing you can do to avoid ever seeing a shark is to simply pay attention to any and all safety information at the beach. Heed any posted signs and listen to the instructions of authority figures like lifeguards, beach patrol personnel, and park rangers. If certain activities like diving, kayaking, surfing, and so on are prevented in the water, don't do them. These rules exist to keep you safe.
    • Sometimes, authorities make the decision that the easiest way to protect beachgoers is to keep them out of the water entirely. Though it can be disappointing to go to the beach and learn that it's been closed, don't try to disobey these rules. Their goal is not to ruin your good time, but to save lives.
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    Avoid swimming at dawn, dusk, or night. Most sharks hunt at these times and are naturally more active and aggressive when hunting.[2] Stay out of the water at these times to avoid encountering a shark when it is likely to be hungry and actively searching for food.
    • In addition, you are at a big disadvantage in the water when it's dark out. Since you have close to zero visibility, you are unable to see any sharks that you do come across. On the other hand, since sharks' other senses are more powerful than ours, they can navigate very well in the dark.
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    Avoid swimming in cloudy or murky water. Just as lack of visibility during dawn, dusk, and nighttime can make you extra-vulnerable to shark attacks, so too can water conditions that limit your visibility. As noted above, sharks have powerful senses besides their vision that can lead them to prey even when it's hard for them to see. Since humans lack these senses, we're much more likely to be taken by surprise by sharks in low-visibility water. Give yourself the best possible chance to see danger coming by swimming only in clear, non-turbulent water.
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    Stay away from shark food sources. Sharks are more likely to be where easy sources of food are. To keep your chances of encountering a shark at a minimum, stay far away from these places. Areas with commercial fishing activity can be especially dangerous, since fishermen sometimes use pieces of chopped up fish as bait, which can inadvertently attract sharks. In general, flocks of diving sea birds are a good indicator that there is food in the water.[3]
    • You'll also want to stay away from anywhere that nutrients, effluent, or waste products are discharged into the water (like, for instance, a sewage outlet that pours directly into the sea.) Not only is this likely to be a little healthier, but also safer, as the sharks are more likely to hang around such areas of water looking for food.
    • If you are fishing, don't dump dead fish or fish pieces into the water. These make easy pickings for shark, which can detect blood at concentrations of as little as one part per million.[4]
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    Stay near to the shore. Sharks that are big enough to pose a threat to humans generally stay in deeper waters off the coast. By staying in relatively shallow water and away from the "dropoff" area at the deep end of most beaches, you decrease the likelihood that you'll encounter a shark. Should you come across one, you'll still be able to get to safety on the shore easier.[5]
    • In addition, you'll want to avoid the areas between sand bars — sharks can sometimes make their way into these narrow channels.
    • Obviously, it can be hard to stay out of deeper water if you're doing activities like surfing or kayaking. In these cases, be sure to take all of the other precautions in this article to stay safe.

Method 2
Being a Safe Swimmer

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    Never swim alone. When hunting, sharks are more likely to single out lone, isolated individuals for attacks than they are to go after a large group.[6] While sharks are unlikely to go after humans in general, swimming in a group can improve your chances even further. Don't let yourself drift away from the people you're swimming with — stay a few paddle's reach away from each other at all times.
    • This general rule isn't just a smart idea for deterring shark attacks — it's also a very important beach safety rule in general. Any swimmer, no matter how strong, may be vulnerable to drowning if he or she encounters unexpected currents or conditions. Swimming in groups (with at least one person on the shore at all times watching the swimmers) can save lives.[7]
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    Avoid making yourself look like shark prey. As noted above, sharks don't naturally hunt for humans as a food source, opting instead for local fish and other underwater wildlife.[8] However, in rare cases, sharks may mistake human swimmers for animals that they naturally prey on, like fish, seals, and sea lions. Luckily, by being careful about what you wear, it's possible to avoid this confusion. See below:
    • Sharks are thought to be attracted to some colors more than others. Bright colors seem to attract tropical sharks. Yellow is particularly attractive (some divers even call it "yum yum yellow").[9]. It is thought that wearing mainly darker colors that don't contrast greatly with the underwater surroundings can help prevent shark attacks. This is true for fins as well.
    • Don't wear shiny objects. Before swimming, take off any jewelry, watches, chains, gear, etc. that is metallic, shiny, reflective or glowing. It is thought that these can attract sharks by resembling the shiny scales of a fish.
    • If possible, avoid surfboards. It is thought that sharks can confuse their streamlined shapes for a large fish or seal.
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    Keep your bodily fluids away from sharks. Sharks have very strong senses of smell (though not as strong as movies and TV may have made you believe.) Some sharks have such a powerful nose that they can detect a single drop of certain chemicals in an olympic swimming pool.[10] For this reason, you will want to avoid swimming in the open water when you are likely to "leak" any bodily fluids that the shark may be able to detect. See below:
    • Stay out of the water if you have an open wound, especially one that is actively bleeding. Menstruating women should use caution.
    • Don’t urinate, defecate, or vomit in the ocean. Stay out of the water if your are likely to need to do these things (for instance, if you are sick.)
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    Avoid excessive splashing or thrashing. While hunting, sharks are on the lookout for weak or wounded prey — the easier they are to catch, the better. To a shark, a human who is wildly splashing around in the water can look a little like a wounded animal. For this reason, especially when you're in deeper waters, you'll want to avoid frequent, animated splashing on the surface. If you're under the water, try to avoid violent, struggling movements as well, even if you're joking — this can also make you look like you're in distress.

Method 3
Protecting Yourself if You See a Shark

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    Stay calm. Remember: shark attacks on humans are rare, so simply seeing a shark does not necessarily mean that it has targeted you. Chance meetings with sharks that are on the hunt for other food or simply swimming from point A to point B are perfectly possible. Don't react tensely or frantically to the sight of a shark unless you have to — as mentioned above, making wild movements and large splashes can attract its attention and make it think that you are a wounded animal.
    • Instead, stay calm and focus on your immediate goal: getting out of the water quickly, quietly, and smoothly.[11] Resist your natural instinct to make a mad dash to safety unless the shark is aggressively following you.
    • If you are fishing in a small boat when you notice a shark, let any fish on the line go and move away.
    • If you are diving at significant depths, surfacing quickly can be dangerous and should be used as a last resort. Instead, release any fish or bait you have with you and move laterally away from the shark. Exit the water at a reasonable pace once you are away from it.[12]
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    Look for telltale warning signs of aggression. As you make your exit from the water, try to keep an eye on the shark if possible. Watch its body language — aggressive sharks tend to act noticeably different from non-aggressive ones. If you see the following signs, move more quickly as you try to get out of the water and get ready to defend yourself if necessary. Movements that indicate a shark might be ready to attack include:[13]
    • Making quick, sharp turns while swimming.
    • "Hunching" or arching the back.
    • Circling, especially if the circles get tighter
    • Charging
    • Lowering the dorsal fin (the one on the back)
    • Rubbing the belly against the sea floor
    • Showing other sudden or erratic movement.
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    If an attack seems likely, adopt a defensive position. In the very unlikely event that you are attacked by a shark, you will almost always fare better if the shark is not able to take you by surprise. If you see the signs of aggression listed above, keep your eyes on the shark and make an effort to use even, steady movements as you continue making an exit from the water. If you have anything you can use to defend yourself, grab hold of it. If you can, put your back to a reef, wall or other object to limit the shark's angles of attack. Most importantly, get ready to fight back.
    • If you are near other people, it's also crucial to call out to them for several reasons. Not only will this notify them of the danger and give them a chance to themselves — it can also help you. Statistically, there are few cases of rescuers being attacked when helping someone else get away from a shark. It's thought that suddenly encountering a second person in the water can spook a shark enough to make it run away.[14]
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    If attacked, fight! Playing dead once a shark makes a decision to attack will do you no favors. This can make the shark think that you're defeated, which is what it wants, and may encourage more bites. On the other hand, if you make yourself appear strong and dangerous, the shark may go off to find easier prey. Remember: sharks aren't usually used to prey that puts up a serious fight — the majority would be much happier chasing an easy fish than a human who's willing to punch, kick, and gouge.
    • Try to strike the shark's eyes and gills with whatever you have. These areas are the most vulnerable, pain-sensitive parts of a shark. Punch and claw at them repeatedly until the shark lets you go.
    • Contrary to popular myth, the nose is not as good of target as the eyes and gills. It's less sensitive to pain and is also right next to the mouth, which is the last thing you want to stick your hand into.
    • If you're diving, use any tools you have, like a diving knife or even a spare tank to hit the shark.
    • Don’t stop fighting. The goal is to convince the shark that attacking you is more trouble than it is worth. Giving up will just make the shark's job easier.
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    Get out of the water and assess your situation. As soon as you can after a shark attack, get out of the water and stay out, even if you don't think you have any injuries. The adrenaline pumping through your body may make it difficult to judge how hurt you are at first. Getting out of the water (and staying out) doesn't just keep you out of the shark's reach, but also gives you a chance to determine what to do next with a reasonably level head.
    • Get medical attention for any injuries immediately, even if they don't seem serious. This is extra important if you are bleeding — since it is more difficult for your body to stop bleeding underwater, you may already have lost a significant amount of blood.[15]
    • Don't get back in the water even if the shark seems to have left and you have no injuries. The only reason to get back in the water (provided you are uninjured) is to save them from a shark attack — as mentioned above, some sharks may flee when dealing with a group of people, rather than just one.
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    Don’t ever bother or harass sharks. This advice should go without saying. Almost any animal that is taunted, harassed, or chased will eventually defend itself. Sharks are no exception, though their deadly predatory capabilities make the consequences for mistakes much higher than with most animals. If you do see a shark, exit the water and leave it alone. Never do anything to provoke a shark, even if you think you are in a safe location, like on a boat. Accidents can still happen.


  • Don’t let this advice scare you! The chances of being injured or killed by shark attack are extremely low. If you follow these steps for prevention and survival, the odds are even more in your favor. These techniques are applicable to all species of shark. Remember, the best way to survive a shark attack is to avoid the situation altogether. Don’t try to fight or provoke a shark to impress girls or your buddies (if you think a good way to impress girls is shark fighting you have problems no list can solve). Enjoy your vacation and be safe!
  • Don't kill or cut something like a fish, and then throw it the bloody unwanted parts into the water, feed it to the seagulls instead..
  • Wear darker colors. Don't wear white!

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