Nat Geo Sharkathon | 'When Sharks Attack': How to avoid or minimize your risk of getting bitten by a shark

Nat Geo Sharkathon | 'When Sharks Attack': How to avoid or minimize your risk of getting bitten by a shark
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The Internation Wildlife Museum says your chances of being bitten by a shark are one in about four million, like your chances of being struck by lightning. When talking about dangerous sea-life, the first creature that comes to mind is the shark. Theses oceanic predators are unpredictable, scavengers that are continuously on the hunt for food.

Shark attacks on humans are infrequent but the numbers in the US have been gradually rising in the past decades. As part of its annual 'Sharkfest', National Geographic is shedding light on shark attacks across the country in the documentary 'When Sharks Attack'.

Sharks inflict crescent-shaped wounds in the form of a bite, resulting in massive tissue loss. Every shark bite is created equal, the only difference being that the size varies. In this case, the saying goes, "the bigger the shark, the bigger the bite". However, there are ways to avoid these gruesome attacks, say shark experts. Here are some ways you can minimize your risk to a shark encounter. 

Avoid swimming during early morning and evening hours

The time before the sun rises and twilight, before the sun is setting is when sharks are actively feeding. Also during this time, visibility conditions in the waters are poor. Swimming at these times can make the shark think you are prey because of mistaken identity. 

Avoid areas with shark prey species

Areas with high activity of seals in the water, or other marine animals that are prey are shark bait. Pay attention to them, and when you see them react with sudden alarm, that's an indication to flee the area. Other signs also include circling birds, splashing water, a dead whale and dolphins, which indicate that a shark is in your proximity. 

Avoid hotspots

Do not enter the water in areas that are known for clusters of sharks or increasing shark activity.

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Don't look like shark bait

Dark silhouettes resemble shark prey. Long borders usually pose a lower risk to shark attacks that swimmers and divers. High contrast or brightly-colored swimsuits tend to confuse sharks. Even contrasting tan colors have been thought to lead to mistaken identity bites. In addition, avoid wearing shiny jewelry because the sun reflecting off of them can draw a shark's attention. 

Avoid nearshore areas

Great whites frequent areas with deep channels, drop-offs or canyons. So it would be wise to stay away from such areas. Sandbars, sea and river mouths can also increase risk, as marine wildlife, including a shark's natural prey, tends to congregate at these areas, which means the sharks aren't that far behind. 

Don't bleed in the water

If you have a cut oozing blood, get out of the water. Even a small amount of blood in the water can attract sharks from miles away. Some experts also recommended that menstruating women avoid swimming in the ocean.

Do not panic

If you notice a shark heading your way, try to alert others, while calmly padding away. Avoid jerky and splashing motions, because frantic movements look like a wounded fish to a shark. 

Too close? Strike its nose

In the event that a shark has approached you, experts recommend hitting the animal in its sensitive nose. This would serve as a last resort, and survivors have attested to shrinking either the nose, gills, or eyes as successful approaches to getting the sharks to release them. 

'When Sharks Attack' premieres on July 20 at 9/8c on National Geographic.

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