Beware. (Photo: Shane Gross/Stocksy)
By Sophie Forbes for Yahoo! Travel
On Sunday, two teens were viciously attacked by sharks off the North Carolina coast in separate incidents that occurred about an hour apart and 2 miles away from each other. It is unknown if the same shark was involved in both attacks.
Both teens, a 12-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, lost limbs in the incidents.
Just a week prior, a 10-year-old boy was bitten by a shark as he waded in the water off Cocoa Beach, Fla. Luckily, his injuries were fairly superficial.
Between 2005 and 2014, there were 701 shark attacks globally, 68 of which were fatal. In the first part of 2015, there have been seven fatal shark attacks worldwide, suggesting an increase in attacks resulting in death.
Yet millions of people still flock to the same beaches every year, despite knowing the dangers.
Sharks are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the marine food chain and have long had the reputation of being vicious killers.
However, it is believed that in many shark attacks, the species are purely protecting their space, much as a dog would bark at or bite an intruder. Rarely are the attacks believed to be a shark hunting for food.
Statistically, you have a better chance of being killed by lightning (1 in 10 million) or dying from falling off a ladder (1 in 2.3 million) than being killed by a shark (1 in 300 million).
But is there a way to further minimize those chances? Yahoo Travel investigates ways to prevent a shark attack and explains how to defend yourself in the unlikely case you’re attacked.
Swim in a group. (Photo: Stephen Frink/Corbis)
1. Swim, surf, or snorkel in a group. Sharks are more likely to attack a lone individual.
2. Avoid the water at night, dawn, and dusk, as this is when sharks are most active. They are also harder to see during these times.
3. Do not enter the water if you are bleeding or have an open wound. Sharks are attracted to blood and can smell it in the water from miles away.
4. Avoid wearing jewelry when swimming. Sharks can mistake the shiny surfaces for fish scales. The same goes for brightly colored and patterned swimwear. Sharks are even believed to be attracted to uneven tan lines, as they see contrasting shades more clearly.
5. Avoid swimming near fishermen or fishing boats. The bait and fish can attract sharks in search of an easy meal.
6. Don’t swim in water known to be frequented by sharks. Always abide by the rules on beach signage and given by lifeguards or local authorities.
7. Do not take your pets into the water. A dog paddling in the surf is an easy dinner for a shark and is also likely to draw sharks closer to shore.
8. Avoid swimming in water where there is sewage. Sewage and waste attract bait fish, which can in turn attract sharks. Sewage in the water can increase following heavy rainfall, so steer clear of the water after a downpour.
9. Keep splashing to a minimum. To a shark, it signifies an animal — a potential easy meal — in distress in the water.
10. Sandbars and steep ocean floor drop-offs are popular hangouts for sharks, so take caution in these areas.
11. Beware around dolphins. They share many of the same food sources as sharks, therefore the two species are usually spotted in the same areas.
What do you do if you are attacked? “Avoid using your bare hands and feet, if at all possible,” suggests the ReedQuest Centre for Shark Research. “Concentrate your blows against the shark’s delicate eyes or gils.”
“Do whatever you can to get away,” advises George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File. “Playing dead does not work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the eyes and gills. I personally would go down fighting.”