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Reducing the Risk of Shark Attacks

With special GuidoPalooza Notes in Red

The relative risk of a shark attack is very small (The Relative Risk of Shark Attacks to Humans Compared To ...) but, risks should always be minimized whenever possible in any activity. The chances of having an interaction with a shark can be reduced if one heeds the following advice:

Odds and Ends
  • Always stay in groups since sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual.  GP Note:  Always be sure there are at least 2 Guidos on either side of you.

  • Do not wander too far from shore --- this isolates an individual and additionally places one far away from assistance.  GP Note:  This is a problem during larger swells.

  • Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.  GP Note:  Always send those meaty Texans, SurfGeo and JB, on dawn patrol first.

  • Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound or if menstruating --- a shark's olfactory ability is acute.  GP Note:  Foon, this means if your flesh is ripped by a longboarder's skeg that it's time to go in!

  • Wearing shiny jewelry is discouraged because the reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.  GP Note:  Guidos from NJ -- you are the bait.

  • Avoid waters with known effluents or sewage and those being used by sport or commercial fisherman, especially if there are signs of bait fishes or feeding activity. Diving seabirds are good indicators of such action. GP Note:  One flush limits are in effect during GP.

  • Sightings of porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks --- both often eat the same food items.  GP Note:  Hmmm.

  • Use extra caution when waters are murky and avoid uneven tanning and bright colored clothing --- sharks see contrast particularly well. GP Note:  Wear dark lycras and spring suits.  KC, please tone it down.

  • Refrain from excess splashing and do not allow pets in the water because of their erratic movements.  GP Note:  JB, please keep your pets on shore.

  • Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep dropoffs --- these are favorite hangouts for sharks.  GP Note:  Doc will patrol these areas with machetes on loan from Rico.

  • 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!  GP Note:  And don't harass the GP2K1 hosts!
(Source: Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department)
[Reprinted, with emendations, from: Burgess, G.H. 1991. Shark attack and the International Shark Attack File, pp. 101-105. In: Gruber, S.H. (ed.). 1990. Discovering Sharks, American Littoral Society, Highlands, New Jersey]

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Last updated on 08/10/08