Updated: Aug 9, 2022
1) Why don’t the sharks attack you?
I am lucky to have a lot of training that has given me a good understanding of shark behavior. I read the body language of the sharks in order to remove myself far before it would reach a point where it would be dangerous to be in the water. Sharks are still wild animals. They aren’t always predictable but I do my best to understand when they no longer want me around. It is important to respect their boundaries. That being said, sharks don’t see us as a food source. Under professional guidance it can be perfectly safe to dive with sharks as long as you follow some simple guidelines when it comes to your own behavior. I do my best to avoid mimicking prey in any way and encourage others to do the same.
2) What should I do if I see a shark, especially if it is “aggressive”?
As mentioned above, there are certain guidelines I suggest people follow when interacting with sharks for the safest and best interactions. The average person probably isn’t going out searching for sharks to encounter but if you are in the ocean there is a possibility you could see a shark. Whether you see a shark on purpose or on accident, the goal is to use your body language to make it very clear you are also a predator in the water.
The most important thing is to maintain eye contact. The last thing you want to do is turn around and swim as fast as you can the other way. Splashing and making as much noise as possible attracts unwanted attention. Most of the time eye contact is enough to deter a shark from approaching. However, if one does continue to approach extend some sort of inanimate object between you and the animal if possible.
A GoPro, fins, camera, surfboard, etc. work as great deterrents. This works best for smaller species and may not be as effective with larger species, such as tigers or white sharks.
It is important to be prepared to redirect if need be but if you can use an object instead I 100% recommend doing so.
3) Have you ever been in a scary situation with a shark? How aren’t you scared in the water?
I would absolutely be lying if I said I was never scared in the water with sharks. I would label that “fear” as more of healthy respect for a predator. The moment you no longer have any fear is the moment you should actually be scared.
No matter how well I can read their behavior or how much I’m in the water, sharks are still wild, unpredictable animals. I trust in my training, my ability to make the call to get out if I need to, and that the sharks are intelligent. They know I’m not a food source so that keeps me from being overwhelmed by fear. However, there is always going to be a healthy level of fear and tons of respect for the sharks as extremely capable predators. All that being said, I love being in the water with sharks. I have more respect for the sharks than I will ever have fear of them.
4) Why do sharks bite people?
Most adverse encounters with sharks are due to misidentification. Sharks are extremely intelligent and have many sense they use to determine what is and isn’t prey. Although, like any animal, even humans, they can make mistakes. Typically what happens in a bite scenario is the person was acting in some manner that made them appear as a prey item, typically visually or audibly. The guidelines talked about earlier will help to reduce your chances of appearing like prey. Shark “attacks” actually happen far less frequently than it would seem. On average, one shark bite is covered over 47 times by the media. Obviously that is going to make it seem like negative shark encounters are happening all the time. In reality, thousands of epic shark encounters are happening that don’t get covered in the news for every one adverse encounter.
5) If I am on my period are the sharks going to try and eat me?
If you know the science behind sharks this question sounds almost like a joke, but it is one of the most common questions I get. The media has painted sharks as man-eating-monster that are thirsty for human blood so I don’t blame people for thinking that any cut, wound, or time of month will elicit a response from a shark. Luckily, there are now studies and experiments that have been done to prove sharks don’t give a sh** about human blood. So the simple answer is no, the sharks don’t care.
photo credit: @juansharks, @blakethompsonphoto