Avoid areas where animal, human, or fish waste enter the water. Sewage attracts baitfish, which in turn attract sharks.
Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed on fish. Sharks are well equipped to locate prey even when visibility is poor.
Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances, channels, and steep drop-offs. These areas are frequented by sharks.
Do not wear high-contrast clothing (orange and yellow are said to be risky colors) or shiny jewelry (which may appear to be like fish scales). Sharks see contrast very well.
Refrain from excessive splashing. Keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are attracted to such activity.
Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted. Do not provoke, harass, or entice a shark, even a small one.
If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. They may be behaving like that because there is a shark in the area.
If you feel something brush up against you, get out of the water to make sure that you have not been bitten. There have been reports that shark-bite victims often do not feel any pain.
Swim, surf, or dive with other people. Sharks most often attack individuals.
Don't wander too far from shore. Doing so isolates you and places you away from assistance.
If you are diving and are approached by a shark, stay as still as possible. If you are carrying fish or other catches, release the catch and quietly leave the area.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE ATTACKED
If attack is imminent, defend yourself with whatever weapons you can, advises the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. "Avoid using your [bare] hands or feet if you can avoid it; if not, concentrate your blows against the shark's delicate eyes or gills." A shark's snout is also said to be sensitive.
If a shark actually gets you in its mouth, says ISAF's George Burgess, "I advise to be as aggressively defensive as you are able. 'Playing dead' does not work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the eyes and gill openings, two very sensitive areas."
If bitten, try to stop the bleeding. Leave the water as efficiently, calmly, and swiftly as possible. While many sharks will not bite again, you cannot rule out a second attack.
Get immediate medical attention, no matter how small the injury.
HOW TO HELP A VICTIM
Remove the victim from the water as soon as possible.
Even before you leave the water, begin controlling bleeding by pressing on pressure points or by applying tourniquets.
Protect the victim from cold by wrapping him or her in a blanket to minimize heat loss.
Once out of the water try not to move the victim unnecessarily. Call for medical help.
The information in this article was compiled from the following sources: International Shark Attack File, Scubadoc (Diving Medicine Online), Icthyology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Government of Western Australia Department of Fisheries, Queensland Government Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, and Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research
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