Ah, the joys of summer. Getting lost on road trips. Firework injuries. Shark attacks.
Yes, we know there are a ton of terrible things more likely to befall you than a shark taking a liking to you. But it does happen (last year, there were about 100 attacks worldwide). So, as you head to the beach, here are some tips to keep you from becoming shark snack.
Be the bigger man
See a shark and think it’s about to attack? Act “big,” because sharks respect size and strength, says shark expert George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File. And pop it on the nose. “A smack to the nose is startling to a shark,” he says.
Attacks are rare; deaths are rarer (six worldwide last year). But if you do find yourself in the jaws of a great white — or bull shark, or tiger shark — don’t play dead. “If you play dead, you’re going to be dead,” says Burgess. Because the shark, after taking an exploratory bite of you, will think it’s won the battle and will commence to chomping.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Deal with a shark like you would a neighborhood bully. “So hit him, and maybe he’ll go home to mommy,” Burgess says. If you got something handy, like your selfie stick or scuba gear, smack the shark with it. Or just use bare hands and go for the nose, gills and eyes — all sensitive areas.
Spring for the shore
Successfully fought off Jaws? Hightail it to the beach. That might sound obvious, but it makes sense. All of that splashing and commotion (not to mention the blood) is sure to attract other sharks that might be swimming by, says Burgess. Once on solid ground, stop the bleeding and get help.
Whew, surely you don’t ever want a repeat of that experience. So what should you differently next time?
Stay out of Florida
OK, we’re kidding (but only a little). The Sunshine State usually leads the world in unprovoked shark attacks. It had 30 last year. Makes sense if you think about it: lengthy coastline + throngs of tourists = shark buffet.
Don’t swim at night
Contrary to the joys Michael Stipe sings about, avoid night swimming, because you can’t see the sharks coming. Also avoid mouths of rivers, inlets, channels and any place where fish congregate. “Where there’s fish, there’s predators,” Burgess says.
Ditch the bling
Light reflecting off jewelry is a surefire shark draw. They think it’s fish scales. So, leave those gold chains on the shore.