Overcome Your Fears With Knowledge

With summer fast approaching and beach trips on everyone’s agenda, one of our most common beach fears shows its ugly head: Shark attacks!

photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

During Memorial Day weekend, my family planned a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Right before we set off to leave, my brother and I read a story about the 2nd reported shark sighting off of the SC coast. Instantly, my brother began his “I’m not getting in the water” speech. As I listened to him I began to think about it: What can we as humans, REALLY do? Sharks are in their natural habitat, doing what sharks do. They are a lot bigger, much stronger AND have razor sharp teeth…..

I decided to start reading. If I do get attacked, I may not have much of a chance, but I can at least TRY to avoid it.

National Geographic, my favorite childhood educational magazine, says that there are ways to avoid becoming a target.

1) Try to avoid swimming in areas where any type of waste might enter the water. Whether it be human or animal waste, do not swim there. Waste represents an easy food source for many ocean animals, sharks included.

2) Dawn, dusk and night are shark hunting and feeding times. Do not get in the water.

3) Although a sharks’ eyesight is not that good, they can see contrast very well. Oranges, yellows and reds are no bueno colors for swimmers. Avoid these colors at all costs.

4) Ever wonder why swimmers and surfers get attacked? Sharks are attracted to splashing and erratic swimming. The more you move, paddle, splash and waddle, the more attention you draw toward yourself in the ocean.

photo courtesy of pinstopin.com

photo courtesy of pinstopin.com

5) Have you ever seen the movie “Jaws”? Well, remember when everyone on the beach sees a sharks fin in the water? What is the first thing EVERYONE in that movie always does? Yes, you got it! The freak out of epic proportions! Try to remain calm and think clearly. First order of business: get out of the water.

6) If you are swimming somewhere where other animals are near, watch their behavior. We do not call it the “animal instinct” for nothing. Animals can sense predators and will act accordingly.

7) Sharks, just like a human predator, are more likely to attack you if you are swimming alone. Try not to find yourself alone in the water, because you only attract more attention.

Do not be alone in the water. Photo courtesy of inquisitr.com

Do not be alone in the water. Photo courtesy of inquisitr.com

Now, if you do all of these things and still find yourself a victim? Well, it is not ‘Game Over’ just yet. You still have a chance if you do the right and smart thing.

photo of Bethany Hamilton, pro surfer, courtesy of soulsurfer.com

photo of Bethany Hamilton, pro surfer and shark attack victim, courtesy of soulsurfer.com

1) Defend yourself no matter what. Do not worry about the right and the wrong. Do not worry about what PETA will say if you hurt a shark…In the water, at the time of an attack, it comes down to you or the shark. Experts suggest pounding the shark on the head, between the eyes or clawing the shark at the eyes and/or gills. These are sensitive areas that are sure to release jaw grip.

2) If you are bitten, you will surely start to bleed. Try to stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Sharks do not typically come back for 2nd bites, but stopping the blood loss is sure to help minimize the chances of such an occurrence.

Sometimes, you are not the victim and just an innocent bystander, swimmer or beach goer. In order to help a victim, remember these 3 things: 1) Stop the bleeding, 2) Keep the victim as warm as possible and 3) Call 911 – ALWAYS!

photo courtesy of funny-pictures.picphotos.net

photo courtesy of funny-pictures.picphotos.net

George Burgess, the Director of Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville said it best: “Attacks can be reduced by being smart about where you go into the water. You shouldn’t anticipate 100% safety; there is a certain risk we accept when we enter any wilderness”

Remember these words, do not be afraid and have a great summer!

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