Trespassers Will be Shot, or Eaten…


        Something that no swimmer wishes to hear while wading along the coast or surfing a swell.  Unfortunately, the ocean is the home of all sharks and assuming that one is not cruising the current near your swimming zone is just like assuming that you could walk along land and not see any humans.  Sharks are everywhere and hopefully, with the help of a lot of activists like myself, their numbers will begin to increase.  However, although the number of sharks in the sea continues to drop, while the number of humans at the beach rapidly rises, it should be no surprise that the number of shark attacks has inevitably increased, as well.  

        Many people blame shark attacks on wetsuits that resemble seals, shark’s ultimate thirst

for blood, clouded conditions, or even just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The truth? YOU ARE TRESPASSING!  I would never enjoy the luxuries of someone’s home while they are not around and then act surprised, angry, and resentful when they take out a baseball bat and clock me in the face with it.  So why are people still surprised that sharks attack humans when they are in the ocean?  

I personally think that people would rather pass the blame than take responsibility for that fact that the shark attack could have been prevented had they not been in the water in the first place.  But here are some hard facts for all the non believers.  According to an article written in Feb 2008 about the rise in attacks that year

“The number of worldwide shark attacks overall increased from 63 in 2006 to 71 in 2007, continuing a gradual upswing over the past four years”

        This rapid increase in a year is nothing compared to 2009, where 112 shark attacks occured!  Luckily, for both humans and the reputations of sharks, the number of fatalities has remained about the same with an average of 6-10 deaths a year.  However, with numbers skyrocketing as they are, you can only wonder whether you are safe in the ocean.  Ichthyologist George Burgess, director of the shark attack file maintained at the Florida Museum of Natural History explains humans level of safety and comfort in the water very clearly and simply,

“The reality is, going into the sea is a wilderness experience,” Burgess said. “You’re visiting a foreign environment — it’s not a situation where you’re guaranteed success.”

        Just as more people in the woods would result in more bear attacks, more people in the ocean =  more shark attacks.  However, rather than considering there being greater odds of getting attacked, remember that the odds are the same, but the population increase really makes the difference. Burgess continues to address this saying,

“Based on odds, you should have more attacks than the previous year,” Burgess said. “But the rate of attacks is not necessarily going up — population is rising and the interest in aquatic recreation grows. That will continue as population rises.”

 BUT this does not mean that you are doomed and if you swim in the ocean you will get attacked and will die.  I love the ocean and really enjoy long swims along the coast.  If I couldn’t optimize its array of uses, I would go crazy!  But there are a lot of ways to lower your chances of an attack.  Here are a few easy tips to follow:

       1. Do no swim in “Sharky” water.  Sharky – conditions at the beach that are common for shark attacks. Grey, murky water, cold weather and water temperatures, and bigger swells.

       2. Do not swim in areas that are used for fisheries.  The remnants left in the waters attract a great deal of sharks and when you are wading in fish waste, a shark cannot tell the difference between you and a little fishy.  

        3. “Surfers were the victims of slightly more than half of the incidents reported in 2010, nearly 51 percent of the cases. An economic downturn will usually influence tourists but not necessarily surfers, whose sport is relatively low-cost, Burgess said.” Surfers are much more likely to go out in conditions that are sharky, which makes a big difference in the likely hood of being attacked.

        4. Sharks are attracted to blood.  This is not an old wives tale or an urban legend.  Sharks have sensory organs that allow them to sniff out one drop of blood in an olympic sized swimming pool.  So if you are bleeding, I do not recommend diving in the deep.

         5. DO NOT SPEAR FISH.  I find this to be common knowledge that swimming around with a struggling, bleeding fish would attract some bad consequences – sharks.  This is one of the most dangerous water sports because of the dangerous predators attracted to what is dangling off the stick in your right hand.

     So there are some helpful tips!  Avoid all of these things and you are LESS likely to be attacked by a fintastic friend of mine.  However, as you can tell, jumping in the ocean is not completely safe because it is not YOUR ocean.  It is THEIR ocean.  So be safe, take care of their home that people around the world like to use for extended vacations, and just keep swimming.

Great White Teenager


One response to “Trespassers Will be Shot, or Eaten…

  1. Dear Great White Teenager,
    As a fellow shark lover, I greatly appreciate your interest in the beauty of sharks and your efforts in encouraging others to understand the nature of sharks rather than fear them. Your writing flows graciously throughout each blog and you reveal a passion for learning and informing your readers about these misunderstood creatures.
    I look forward to future updates. 😉

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