When it’s Sharky in the morning…or evening


The swimmer attacked by a great white shark off the coast of Southern California over the weekend has been released from the hospital. He said he feared for his life.

Steven Robles told KABC-TV “It came up to the surface, it looked at me and attacked me right on the side of my chest.” [Fox News]

So, now everyone’s afraid to go back to the beach.

But USAToday notes,

“Despite a growing population of great white sharks in U.S. waters and heightened awareness following Saturday’s incident in California, shark attacks remain rare, researchers say.

“It’s extremely uncommon,” said Tobey Curtis, a shark researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

And in general, your chances of being attacked by a shark while swimming in the ocean are rare. Very rare.

In 2013, there were 47 shark attacks in the USA.

I know 47 people who were at the beach last week.

Every few years I’ll drag out this post as a public service.

Way back in 2001 when I first posted this on a blog (that I’ll never find again), a certain governor had established a Shark Task Force after two attacks off the Virginia and North Carolina Coast resulted in two deaths. The 9/11 attacks sort of made us forget about sharks.  I posted it again in 2011 after a little girl was attacked off of Ocracoke. The little girl survived.

While a healthy fear of nature is a good thing, there’s no real need to cancel your beach vacation plans. Just keep in mind these things to reduce the possibility of shark attack:

  • Stay in groups – sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual.
  • Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage. – The recent attack occurred around 5:00 p.m. When I wrote this in 2001 both attacks had occurred around 6:00 p.m. The 2011 attack occurred around 5:00 p.m. The recent California attack was around 9:30 in the morning.
  • Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound or if menstruating.
  • Don’t wear shiny jewelry. The shark mistakes the reflected light for the sheen of fish scales.
  • Don’t swim where there is a lot of fishing activity. The use of bait fish will draw the sharks.
  • Diving seabirds are good indications of the presence of fish.
  • The presence of porpoises does not mean there are no sharks.
  • Sandbars and areas with steep dropoffs are favorite hangouts for sharks.

While this list isn’t fail safe, statistically you’re more likely to be struck by lightning or die in a car crash than you are to be attacked by a shark.

Oh, and did I mention that our beach week reservations start the same day as Shark Week?

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