Tomas Kotouc/ShutterstockJust in case you find yourself in the middle of a Sharknado or just in open water on a beach vacation, you’re going to want to know how to survive a shark attack. (Find out all the things you don’t know about shark attacks.)
George Burgess, the director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, keeps a running database of shark attacks from all over the world. The shark attack guru explains that there are three scenarios in which you might need to know how to avoid a shark attack: first, you’re in the water when you spot a shark; second, the shark is for sure coming after you; and third, you find yourself in the shark’s mouth. (You’ll definitely be happy you read this if number three is ever the case!)
Get Out of the Water
According to Burgess, the first thing that you should try to do is get out of the water “gracefully,” that is, without a bunch of splashing and flailing that will attract unwanted attention. Failing that, Burgess advises, positioning yourself in a position of power so that the shark has less access to you. Divers can try hiding in a rock or reef or going back-to-back with a partner so that you have eyes on all sides. As a swimmer, your options are more limited.
Poke it Hard and Fast
“You want to discourage the shark from actually biting you,” says Burgess, and this can be achieved with the poke-to the-nose approach. Poking the shark on the nose is your best bet, as the snout is especially sensitive. Burgess likens the technique to punching the neighborhood bully before the bully can punch you, giving yourself the element of surprise. Because the nose is located directly above the shark’s mouth, use an inanimate object. Ideally, this would be a spear or knife, but if you don’t happen to have one handy in your swimsuit, even a swim fin will do. The point is to use something besides your own body so you the shark can’t bite your hand. Can’t reach its nose? You can also aim for the gills. Like the neighborhood bully scenario, Burgess warns that the shark is likely to recover quickly, so you better get away as fast as you can once you’ve made your move. The popping on the nose will only work once or twice before the animal figures you out. Here are some sea creatures we would rather encounter.
Should All Else Fail
If you find yourself in the shark’s mouth, fight back as hard as you can. Do this by literally aiming to penetrate the eyes and gills (five slits on the lateral sides of the head) but hitting anything you can so that the shark releases you from the life and death situation.
No matter what, when faced with a shark, you don’t want to be passive, “You want to indicate to the shark that you are big and strong,” explains Burgess. Don’t miss the ways to survive just about anything.