What to Know About Sharks While Surfing
Sharks are fascinating creatures. Why else would we tune in year after year for “Shark Week" on Discovery Channel? As much fascination as we have with sharks, there is also an innate fear that comes with them. For many beachgoers, this fear keeps them from ever entering the water. Many first-time surfers also experience this fear. While the chances of getting bit by a shark while surfing are slim (from 2001 to 2010 there was on average four to five shark attack fatalities a year worldwide), you should keep these precautions in mind with sharks while surfing.
1. Stay out of the Water at Dusk and Dawn
Experienced surfers may have no fear of sharks, however, if you are first-time surfer, or new to surfing and looking to avoid a shark encounter, it is best to stay out of water at dusk and dawn, as these are the two primary feeding times for sharks. So if you want to minimize your chances of encountering a shark, avoid a shark's breakfast or dinnertime.
2. Surf in Groups
When it comes to avoiding sharks, there is strength in numbers. Always surf with a friend or group of people. In the event of a shark attack, your chances of survival are much greater with others around to assist in getting help and first aid.
3. Be Mindful of Where You are Surfing
It is important to be aware of your surroundings when surfing. Try to avoid surfing near areas where sharks feed. Some of these areas include river mouths and channels (dead animals, food, and fish flow down-stream, making this a great place for sharks to prey), sewage entry points (again shark bait enters the waters at these places), and sandbars (sharks lurk here looking for fish that wander from shallow waters).
4. Don’t Surf with Open Wounds
We all know that sharks like blood. In fact, some sharks can smell scents from as much as a third of a mile away. With that being said, sharks can smell blood, so it is not wise to enter the ocean with an open cut or wound. Make sure you apply adequate bandages before surfing.
5. Don’t Dress Like a Fish
Okay, maybe that was a stretch, but try to avoid wearing shiny jewelry or black and white bathing suits. Sharks can’t see color, but they do recognize contrast. Black and white objects, as well as, shiny objects can resemble a fish in their eyes (aka dinner). It is also recommended that you avoid wearing yellow, orange, white, and flesh colored bathing suits or wetsuits. Also, make sure you cover your tan lines when entering the ocean. The contrast in your skin between tanned and untanned areas, is enough to attract the attention of sharks.
While your chances of winning the lottery are probably greater than those of getting bit by a shark, it is always important to be mindful and take precautionary measures to avoid being a shark’s next meal. Our team is CPR, AED, and First Aid certified, in the event of a shark attack, we have the tools necessary to respond. So, don’t let the fear of a shark attack keep you out of the water and from fulfilling your surfing dreams.