Florida Museum of Natural History

Shark Attacks

Reducing the Risk of a Shark Encounter:
12 Tips for Avoiding a Shark Attack
With the advent of Shark Week 2012, we've put together a list of 12 things that you can do to help reduce your risk of a negative shark encounter. Keep these in mind next time you hit the beach!
  1. Avoid being in the water from sunset to sunrise. This is when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.

  2. Stay in a group, and do not wander too far from shore. Isolated individuals are more likely to be attacked than large groups; in addition, the farther you are from shore, the farther you are from help.

  3. Consider your clothing: avoid wearing shiny jewelry, because the reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.

  4. Avoid brightly colored or patterned clothing, because sharks see contrast particularly well.

  5. Do not enter waters being used by sport or commercial fisherman - sharks can sense the smells emitted from bait at incredible distances.

  6. Avoid entering waters with sewage output and/or entering the water if you are bleeding. Such additions to the water can act as strong olfactory attractants to sharks.

  7. Know your facts! Porpoise sightings do not indicate the absence of sharks. In fact, the opposite is often true. Also be on the lookout for signs of bait fishes or feeding activity - diving seabirds are good indicators of such action. Animals that eat the same food items are often found in close proximity. Remember, a predator is never too far from its prey.

  8. Refrain from excess splashing while in the water, and do not allow pets in the water because of their erratic movements.

  9. Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep drop-offs, as these are favorite hangouts for sharks..

  10. Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present, and evacuate the water if sharks are seen while there. And, of course, do not harass a shark if you see one!

  11. Stay calm if you do see a shark, and maintain your position in as quiet a manner as possible. Most sharks merely are curious and will leave on their own.

  12. Relax! You are more likely to be injured by lightening than attacked by a shark. To learn more about your relative risks, see: The Relative Risk of Shark Attacks to Humans
© George H. Burgess, International Shark Attack File
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida