Sharks are some of the oceans best predators, and while humans are not part of their general diet, mistakes do happen, and a shark may capitalize on an opportunity if hungry just like any other predator would. The movie Jaws, while fictional, has developed a mindset of fear in many people, so much so that they won’t even go in the water. It doesn’t even matter that there are no sharks stalking humans from the Eastern Seaboard to the Bahamas like in the movies, people are still afraid of sharks. The fear is totally understandable, something twice your size, with razor sharp teeth, appear seemingly out of nowhere in the water, puts a human at a sever disadvantage. While the chance of a shark attack is typically low, its still a good idea to be prepared with first aid equipment just in case something does happen, whether it is a shark, or some other type of marine injury. So take the following into account when enjoying the water:
1. Avoid Swimming During Certain Times: Sharks are generally more active at dawn and dusk. These low light conditions have been found to correlate to an increase in shark activity.
2. Avoid Murky Water: Water with low visibility is likely to contribute to a shark misidentifying its prey, resulting in a shark potentially biting you on your surfboard, or mistaking you for a seal in your cozy wetsuit while diving.
3. Safety In Numbers: It’s generally best to surf, dive, or swim with more than one person. Multiple people means more than one set of eyes and ears on the water so in case a shark bites someone, is near drowning, or needs assistance in rescue or first aid there is more than one person available.
4. Have A Plan: Having a plan of action in case of a dangerous event also helps provide a means of protection, especially if it’s a group response.
5. Understand How Sharks Communicate: Sharks have a unique way of communicating with body language. If a shark feels threatened it may exhibit body language such as arching their back, jaw gaping, or lowering their fins on the side of their body.
6. Remain Calm & Move Deliberately: If you do encounter a shark and its just investigating do your best to remain calm, and move deliberately. A shark may key in on you and investigate further with its mouth if you start splashing and swimming erratically, which how injured prey would move. A few years ago a surfer encountered a 3-meter great white shark off the South West coast of Australia while surfing. He remained calm, and paddled deliberately so as not to look like prey, and while the shark hung around to check him out, he was able to slowly paddle to shore, and they both went their separate ways.
7. Defend Yourself: If a shark does bite you, and you are able to fight back aim for the eyes, gills, or nose. Be careful to not stick your hand or arm into the sharks’ mouth further injuring you. In addition, sharks have a protective cover for their eyes that they activate when attacking so gouging the eyes may not be as effective as hoped.
8. Self-Defense Weapons: As a diver it is possible to carry a dive knife, spear gun, or boom stick as a means of defense. Simple pocking a shark with the end of your spear gun may be enough to keep it at bay until you can exit the water. As surfers though the options are a bit more limited though.
9. Shark Deterrents: Currently, there are a few electronic shark deterrents on the market. They typically have a hefty price tag, and may be cumbersome to carry or use. The best bang for your buck electronic wise is the Rpela ($350) that is installed into the bottom of your surfboard, or the Shark Shield ($750) which has a unit that is installed on the back of your surfboard. Make sure you do your research before you buy though because there are some so-called shark deterrents on the market that say they reduce the risk of shark attack, but have numerous incidences of the device failing, and more importantly hide the fact on their website that it doesn’t work on great whites. If a shark deterrent doesn’t work on great whites, then its useless. The same can be said for some of the other forms of snake oil like wax with herbs and spices. Other Shark Deterrents: Other potential shark deterrents or technologies are wetsuits that incorporate camouflage to help you blend into the water or environment, overlays for the bottom on your surfboard that make you look like a poisonous animal, or big eyes.
When it comes to bleeding control tourniquets are one of the best tools available. When it comes to the ocean and water, you’re going to want to make sure your tourniquet is a marine tourniquet with user-friendly mechanism to tighten. OMNA makes the worlds only marine tourniquets that are specifically designed for marine professionals and water sports. OMNA also incorporates their tourniquets into surfboard, body board, and paddleboard leashes (leg ropes) for surfers. Since Dr. Ballas the lead researcher on the first clinical shark attack study ever conducted determined that the single determining factor of shark attack survival is the rapid application of a commercial pre-hospital tourniquet it’s a no-brainer that a tourniquet surfboard leash is the next step in the evolution of surf accessories.
There are numerous ways to reduce the chance of a shark attack. Whether you choose to enjoy the water at certain times of the day, carry a bazooka, or electronic shark deterrent always remember that those things are not 100% effective. The use of a tourniquet has been proven time-and-time again to be the best first aid device for you to save your life, or the life of someone else so make sure you have one with you in the water, or on the beach.