Why do sharks attack humans?

Scientists believe that most shark attacks on humans are due to an identity error.

Sometimes, as in attacks on surfers, the human figure resembles the image of a sea lion or seal from the bottom of the ocean, making the shark curious to try the prey.
Other times, sharks attack humans, because they are caused by the same human activity, such as water agitation or splashing, colours used by humans or bright jewellery can attract sharks.

Florida Nature History Museum

Mick Fanning

A deadly scare. This is what happened to Mick Fanning, an Australian surfer, a three-time world champion, who saw a shark attack him in during the competition.
It happened at the J Bay Open, held in South Africa.











Fanning was in the water when suddenly, next to him, appeared the enormous shark dorsal fin. The athlete saw it and then received a tail in the face. A water scooter first helped him and then a rescue boat was able to approach his position, rescue him and take him to the shore. “They were two big sharks, I was sitting, standing, and I noticed something next to my leg.

I quickly jumped to dodge it, I could only see one fin. While I was waiting for it to bite me I hit him in the back”, explained the Australian after being rescued.
The tournament has been postponed due to the presence of sharks in the waters where it is celebrated.


Charlie Fry

A British surfer that was attacked by a white shark on the Avoca beach, in North Sydney, Australia.
What is striking is that Charlie Fry, 25 years old, was saved from death by imitating what Mick Fanning did when two years ago he was attacked at Jeffrey’s Bay.
Fry hit the shark on the head when he felt it was biting his shoulder.

It is always good to be up-to-date on surfing news because it can save your life … jokes aside, the matter is quite serious.
Charlie Fry shows the bite that he suffered a little bite on the shoulder

According to what the victim told to the Australian press, his reaction to feeling the pressure of the jaw was instinctive. “I turned to the right and saw the shark’s head out of the water with its teeth, and I hit it in the face. I went back to my board and told my friends to take a wave”, he explained.
Fry explained that he reacted like that after seeing what Mick Fanning did in Jeffrey’s Bay. “When it happened, I thought, you have to do like Fanning. Mick, if you’re watching or reading this, know that I owe you a beer. “Thank you very much”, he said

“I did not really feel that I was nailing my teeth, but it did grip me like a hand, they grabbed me. It was pure adrenaline and I recognize that I thought I was going to die devoured by a shark. Everything slowed down, I went in slow motion, “said the English surfer attacked in Avoca, who just entered the water and arrive in Sydney to start working.

Electronic repellent

A team from the Oceanographic Institute of the University of Western Australia has created a device that emits a strong electronic field capable of interfering with the receptive system of the shark, as announced by The Guardian in its Australian version and can be easily incorporated to the back of the board.

The expectations of success are higher than those that originated the neoprene and the camouflage board to deceive the sharks. It seems safer to alter your mind than your sight, since the visual sense only comes into action seconds before an attack occurs, while an electronic impulse gives rise to that not even so it is raised.

The experiment was tested with Australian and South African sharks and the results were satisfactory, not being interested in baits that contained this device. One of the first to acquire the product has been the surfer Arlen Macpherson and he has not hesitated to pay 390 Australian dollars, that is, around 246 euros for a piece that can become a habitual neighbour of the keels and other elements of which A table is composed.

Considering that Macpherson usually surfs in Australia, it can be said that it is a great investment. It is one of the areas of the planet with better conditions for riding waves but at the same time one of the most dangerous due to the huge number of squalid skulking its coasts.


Tips to avoid shark attacks

  1. Avoid surfing at night and at dawn
    This is popular feeding and hunting time for sharks.  Also, the lack of visibility from the dark makes it easier for them to mistake you for one of their favourite meals.
  2. Look for warning signs
    Warning signs are sometimes posted on beaches where sharks have been sighted.  It’s not a good idea to test your fate.  Don’t ignore the warning signs.
  3. Surf in groups
    Sharks tend to attack individuals.
  4. Avoid river mouths and channels
    These are areas where food and fish flow out into the ocean making it an abundant resource of sharks to feed.  Avoid surfing after it rains because this causes the water to be murky.  The low visibility will make it more difficult for sharks to determine whether you’re fish or human.
  5. Don’t wear anything that is bright, high-contrasting in colour, or shiny
    Shiny jewellery can resemble the scales of a fish.  Bright colours such as yellow and orange and high-contrast attract sharks.
  6. Don’t surf if you are bleeding
    You can potentially be attracting sharks within a one-mile radius.  In fact, sharks can smell and taste blood from more than a mile away and they can track that scent back to you.  If you get cut, get out of the water.  If you’re a female who is menstruating, avoid getting into the water.
  7. Stay away from dead animals and fish 
    Sharks love to feed on dead animals and you don’t want to be near when they’re feeding.
  8. Stay away from fishing and sewage
    Fishermen throw bait into the water which often times can attract sharks.  Sewage attracts bait fish which will attract sharks.
  9. Avoid erratic movements and splashing
    Playfully splashing around in water can attract sharks.  To them, this resembles a prey in distress.  Always stay calm in the water because sharks can sense fear.
  10. Beware of drop-offs and sandbars
    Often times these are areas that are ideal conditions for surfing but they are favourite feeding areas for sharks.
  11. Get out if there is a shark sighting
    Regardless of how epic the waves are, get out of the ocean to surf another day.

What to do if you encounter a Shark

  1. Stay Calm
    This sounds a lot easier said than done but it is really important.  Like many predators, sharks can sense fear and this will only arouse their senses and attack instincts. You also need to keep cool in order to analyse the few critical seconds that you have to make the right decisions that will save your life.  This is not the time to panic. If a shark is approaching, you will not be able to outswim it in open water.  Instead, stay chill and take the next steps:
  2. Defend yourself
    Get in a position where you are able to defend your front and sides of your body.  Try to avoid using your hands.  Use any weapons possible and in your case, it’s likely the only thing you have is your surfboard.  If possible, use your board as a shield of a barrier from the shark.  Strike back at the shark if you can at its most delicate areas such as their eyes, nose or gills.
  3. Get Aggressive If it bites you and drags you underneath the water, playing dead will not help.
    Get as aggressive as you can by clawing at its eyes and gills.
  4. Stop the bleeding
    Get out of the water as efficiently as you can. Most sharks who attack surfers think that they’re prey. Once they realize that surfers are not their usual high-fat meals, they usually let go. In fact, fatal shark attacks are usually due to the injury sustained from the attack and not from getting devoured.  It’s critical you get out as quickly as possible and stop the bleeding.
  5. Get help
    Find a lifeguard or anyone and get immediate medical attention.

Now that you know the facts and these lifesaving tips, get out there, have some fun surfing, and don’t worry about sharks.


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