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How to Prevent a Shark Attack

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Great White Shark Chasing Bait / Getty Images

The white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) trying to catch bait as it is being reeled back into a boat off of Neptune Island, South Australia, Australia. The white shark is the #1 species implicated in unprovoked shark attacks.

Stephen Frink / Getty Images

Even though you're more likely to die from a lightning strike, alligator attack or on a bicycle than from a shark attack, sharks do sometimes bite humans. According to the International Shark Attack File there were 79 cases of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide in 2010. Thirty-six of these unprovoked attacks were in U.S. waters, and 13 of these were in Florida.

The top 3 attacking shark species were the white, tiger and bull sharks.

There are many ways (most of them common-sense) that you can avoid a shark attack. Below is a list of what not to do if you'll be swimming in waters where sharks might be present, and techniques for getting away alive if a shark attack really does happen.

What Not to Do:

  • Don't swim alone.
  • Don't swim during dark or twilight hours.
  • Don't swim with shiny jewelry.
  • Don't swim if you have an open wound.
  • Don't swim too far offshore.
  • Ladies: don't swim if you're menstuating.
  • Don't splash excessively or make erratic movements.
  • Keep pets out of the water.
  • Don't swim in areas where there are sewage (for other obvious reasons!) or pinnipeds that are hauled-out. Both areas can attract sharks.
  • Don't swim in areas being used by fishermen, as their bait could attract sharks.
  • Don't push your luck - never harass a shark. Get out of the water if one is spotted.

What to Do If You're Attacked:

Let's hope you've followed the advice above and successfully avoided an attack. But what do you do if you suspect a shark's in the area or are being attacked?

  • If you feel something brush against you, get out of the water. According to an article from National Geographic, many shark bite victims don't feel any pain. And sharks may strike more than once.
  • If you are attacked, the rule described here is "do whatever it takes to get away." Possibilities include yelling underwater, blowing bubbles, and punching the shark's nose, eye or gills and then leaving the area before the shark strikes again.

References and Additional Information:

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