The prevention of shark attacks: What you need to know

People can have a number of preventive measures to avoid getting bitten by a shark.

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)

A bull shark bit a man’s legs over the weekend while he was swimming off a Florida beach. He survived with injuries that were not life-threatening.

The idea of a shark attack can be frightening, and there is an increase in reports of West Coast shark sightings and attacks.

“White shark populations on the West Coast has declined in a few decades, but indication now is that they start again to rise ever so slowly thanks to the federal and national protection of the species, the” International Shark Attack File (ISAF) – director George Buress recently told Fox News.

Last year there were 84 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks worldwide – a dip of the 98-unprovoked attacks in 2015 the ISAF website says. 56 of the 2016 attacks in the United States, compared with 59 unprovoked attacks of the year before.

While ISAF says that the risk to be killed in a shark attack is an in 3,748,067, here is what you can do to prevent such an event, and fight back if necessary.

How can I prevent a shark from me biting?

There are a few things that you can do.

The university of Miami, professor and marine ecologist Dr. Neil Hammerschlag says to avoid swimming in areas with “an unusual amount of fish life,” where the sharks may be in search of food.

You should also avoid you in the water at night, dawn or dusk. “It turns out that sharks may mistake people or bite people unintentionally,” he told Fox News, explaining that it was harder for them to discriminate when it is dark.

People should also avoid swimming alone, and stay in groups. “Sharks tend to target isolated prey,” Hammerschlag said.


I see a shark – what should I do?

Keep your distance – do not attempt to chase, corner, or touch.

“Don’t act like shark food,” Hammerschlag advises. He says that if there is a shark, do not run away. You should also keep eye contact with the shark.

“Follow it around as circles, let it know that you see,” he said. When trying to get away, “keep facing the shark, but move backwards slowly.”

What is the best way to fight back if a shark bites me?

Most sharks bite and release, Hammerschlag says. “In the unlikely event that they are not free,” he says that you should “fight back” and strike the shark gills, the eyes and the nose.

Hammerschlag also said that shark bites “really rare,” usually small and do not require hospitalization.

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