Wednesday, July 24, 2013

3 Ways You Can Avoid Sharks

How Should We Respond When Humans and Sharks Collide?

As vacationers head to the beach this holiday weekend, an expert says communities are taking a variety of approaches to keep swimmers safe.

Nat Geo - Would you go swimming where there's recently been a shark attack? It's a quandary that shark attack expert Christopher Neff, a doctoral researcher at the University of Sydney, strives to understand.

Neff has studied how the public and governments respond to shark bites in North America, Australia, and Africa. He says that with more and more people using the ocean, the way we talk about shark attacks and the methods governments use to reduce the risk of shark bites have evolved over time.

Following several shark attacks reported in the U.S. last month—off the coasts of Texas, Hawaii, California, and South Carolina—Neff spoke to National Geographic via email about how communities around the world are responding to similar incidents, and what the thousands of Americans heading to a beach this Fourth of July weekend can do to reduce their chances of encountering a shark.

How rare are fatal shark bites? How can people heading to the beach this holiday weekend stay safe?

The International Shark Attack File has noted that, based on their 2000 data, we have a 1 in 11.5 million chance of being bitten by a shark.

My position is not that sharks are cuddly and we should be friends, but that they can be dangerous and a healthy respect for them is important.

I have a "Three What's" rule that I use when I go to the beach because I want to remind myself that I am stepping into a dynamic and wild ecosystem.

First, I ask, "What's the weather?" because swimming while it's overcast or stormy isn't a good idea. 

Incoming storms can cause the tide to stir up baitfish, and we want to avoid getting in the way of sharks and their prey. It's recommended that bathers stay out of the water for 24 hours after a storm, not just [until] the next morning.   More