Shark Week: Top 5 Ways To Stay Safe In The Water

 Written by Amerigo Caffo

Edited By: Carly Richwagen

       In lieu of the recent shark attacks down the coast of the Carolinas, many people have been left too afraid to go back in the water. The never-ending fear of being bitten by a shark can linger on for months, even years, after a shark attack. However, sharks have been given a bad reputation. According to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, three of the 72 shark attacks that happened worldwide in 2014 were fatal. Of the 28 shark attacks that happened in Florida in 2014, zero were fatal. Also, the number of fatalities due to shark attacks have generally remained constant over the last ten years. According to the Discovery Network, there are 500 species of sharks that exist, and therefore millions of sharks swim in our waters. Only 72 sharks to have attacked in 2014 out of that population is a very small percentage of the sharks that exist.

       The sharks that do attack frequently mistake people for their prey. We have listed the best ways to make sure that you do not appear to sharks as food so that you can remain safe at the beach this summer.

1.) Choose a sunny day to go to the beach

       Sharks have an amazing sensory system. According to the  Discovery Network, they can detect a single drop of blood in the water from a quarter-mile away! However, with the advancement of one sense, another sense must suffer. Sharks cannot see clearly in the water, and therefore it has become all too common that sharks mistake swimmers for prey. To ensure that you are not leading on a shark, choose a sunny day to go to the beach. Foggy and overcast days are not the best choice, as the reflection of the clouds in the water will obscure the shark's line of vision. Also, swimming at the beach in the early morning is also highly risky because of the lack of sunlight. 

2.) Act like a human

       As bizarre as this might sound, it is one of the best pieces of advice that we can give you. Sharks will mistake you for a seal or a fish if you swim like one. The most common way to appear to sharks as a seal is by swimming with a surfboard. The further you go out into the ocean with a surfboard, the higher the risk of getting attacked. In order to avoid looking like a seal or a fish, avoid excessive splashing or wearing foot fins. Try to remain in one place close to the shore at all times. 

3.) Leave Fido at home 

       The same way a shark can mistake a human for food, sharks can also mistake pets for food. Many people enjoy bringing their dogs to play with them at the beach. This is okay until your pet decides to splash around with you in the water. Dogs love to splash, which is an immediate red flag for sharks. If you are at the beach, walk closely with your pet near the shore. If you are on a boat, never let your pet reach over the edge. Keeping your beloved pets close by will keep sharks far away.

4.) Get an even tan

       Tanning at the beach has become just as common as swimming at the beach. They go hand-in-hand. However, before you go in the water, researchers suggest making sure you have an even tan all over your body. Any major contrast in your tan can attract sharks, as they will mistake you for the different colors found on fish scales. To get an even tan, rub tanning lotion all over your body. Set a timer for how long you want to tan on one side of your body, and then tan for the same length of time on the other side of your body.

5.) Just keep swimming

       If you see a school of fish or a family of seals nearby, swim away! These areas are dominated by sharks. You do not want to be caught in a feeding frenzy. Many people become distracted when they see wildlife in the water. Do not try to take pictures of the animals!  In addition, make sure you are at least 1000 feet away from large groups of sea wildlife if you cannot get out of the water. If you can get out of the water, get out immediately

       By following these five key steps to avoiding sharks in the water this summer, you will be much less likely to attract sharks. Remember, always be on the lookout for shark fins and movement in the water. These are the best ways to know if danger is heading towards you!