Summer is here—at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere—and beaches are about to see more surfers, swimmers and adventurers heading out to enjoy the salty seawater. It’s good to be aware of even the most unlikely dangers when entering the open ocean and since shark attacks in the U.S. were up last year, some will inevitably worry about the big toothies. But with a little bit of preventative caution, it’s easy to avoid becoming a Great White’s meal.
Here are some tips to staying off the dinner menu.
Bleeding? Stay out of the water.
Yes, sharks have a very keen sense of smell—and yes, the smell of blood will absolutely attract a hungry shark. Even a drop of blood from the smallest of paper cuts can be enough for a shark to pick up your scent. When in doubt: if you’re bleeding, don’t go out in the water too far.
Are people fishing in the area? Stay out of the water.
One of the worst places to swim, surf or play in the ocean is an area close to people fishing. Fish bleed and a hungry shark might be around to grab a snack or two. Chances are it’ll be looking for a fish to bite, but sharks tend to grab for whatever looks tastiest.
Are there any seals or sea lions about? Stay out of the water.
Sharks like sea lions and seals. People swimming and surfing can easily be mistaken for sea lions and seals. Best bet: avoid areas where it’ll be easy to be mistaken for a sea lion or seal.
Near a river mouth? Stay out of the water.
Sharks tend to feed at places where the shelf drops off suddenly or in areas like river mouths. The best way to avoid becoming shark food is to avoid being in the areas sharks like to feed.
Is the water particularly murky? Stay out of the water.
Generally, humans aren’t a sharks preferred meal. Most often people are mistaken for another animal—like a seal. In murky water where they can’t see, a person swimming or paddling on a surfboard could very well resemble a seal and be prime prey for the day. The shark won’t even realize its mistake until it’s too late. Also: it’s much harder to see a shark if you can’t see through the water.
Wearing jewelry? Stay out of the water.
Sharks are attracted to bright, shiny things that reflect light. Leave your bling on the shore.
Swimming alone? Stay out of the water.
Groups swimming seem much more intimidating and less easy prey than a single swimmer. Surf and swim with friends and the potential threat will be much lower.
Nighttime? Stay out of the water.
Just because sight is limited doesn’t mean sharks can’t hunt. The only thing that changes when it’s dark out is the human ability to see a shark hunting.