Now that the ever so popular “Shark Week” television series is long gone, it’s okay to start discussing the idea of partaking in ocean activities again. Although some people struggle with an extreme fear of sharks, most folks do not typically allow sharks to affect their lives. This does not mean, however, that the average beach-goer is going to jump in the ocean and look forward to a close shark encounter because the opposite is definitely true.
It is safe to assume that the majority of people recognize sharks’ presence in the ocean, and are aware of the potential danger associated with them. However, due to the fact that sharks are a high interest topic, there is a lot of information out there about them. This may come as a surprise, but not everything you read on the Internet is true, especially in regards to facts and myths about sharks.
If you hear an elaborate or terrifying story about a shark, don’t allow this to completely alter your desire to participate in ocean activities. Instead, continue to enjoy the many benefits of saltwater, but make sure you are knowledgeable about sharks, and make sure that you practice shark safety. Remember, sharks are not on the hunt for humans. We are the ones invading their territory, so if they feel threatened, it’s only natural for them to attack. In order to minimize the danger factor when a shark encounter is a possibility, consider the following tips:
- Don’t fly solo. Regardless of your age, strength, or swimming abilities, it is never a good idea to be in the ocean alone. Always bring a friend or make sure there are other people nearby in case of any sort of emergency.
- Look for lifeguards. The presence of an active lifeguard on duty will not prevent sharks from swimming near you, but they can keep an eye out for potential shark threats and warn those in the area, which is an added safety benefit.
- Dress well. What you wear in the ocean can greatly affect your odds of encountering a shark. Avoid shiny jewelry and high contrasting colors. Sharks are used to the visual dullness of the ocean, so are easily attracted to anything out of the ordinary.
- Be weary of wounds. It is fairly common knowledge that sharks are attracted to blood in the ocean. It is your responsibility to make sure there is no chance of them being attracted to you due to a wound, cut, scrape, etc. Even if you think it is healed, the saltwater could trigger bleeding again and sharks can sense the smallest amount of blood from miles away.
- Minimize movement. If you happen to see a shark, the best think you can do is remain calm and not draw attention to yourself. Sharks are attracted to noise and rapid movements in the water, so it is imperative that you resist the urge to panic and cause both of those things.
- Stick with the sun. Obviously, swimming in the ocean when it’s dark out is careless, but dusk and dawn are specific times when sharks are known to swim close to the shore, so you should avoid being in the ocean during those hours.
Sharks are magnificent creatures whose dominance in the ocean should be respected but not feared. The ocean provides the opportunity to benefit from a number of fun activities – swimming, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing. A fear of sharks should not keep you from enjoying these things. If you are still hesitant, consider speaking with sea life experts at a local scuba diving store or sporting goods store that specializes in ocean activities.