Avoiding Shark Attacks

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Sharks are unpredictable, and any time you are in waist-deep ocean waters you are in shark country. Sharks rarely attack people, but a few simple precautions can help you reduce the already slight risk.

When in shark waters but no shark is in sight, look out for fins. If you see one fin cutting through the water, that is likely a dolphin. Two fins--one behind the other--are more likely to be a shark, with its back and tail fins above the surface.

Practice these tips to avoid attracting seen or unseen sharks:

Don't carry dead fish when swimming or diving.

Don't swim at night, early in the morning, or early in the evening. These are the times when sharks are hunting.

Stay out of murky water.

Don't wear contrasting colors or flashing objects.

Avoid wading or swimming in offshore sloughs or channels, such as might occur between sandbars, and in waters that drop off steeply to greater depths.

Never molest a shark of any kind, regardless of size.

If you spot a shark

Stay calm, as sudden movements may attract a shark.

Swim calmly and rhythmically back to land or boat.

Keep the shark in sight, particularly if you are swimming underwater. In most shark attacks, the victim didn't see the shark. Sharks seem to shy away from people who look directly at them.

If all else fails, try to look prepared to fight back.

Shark Facts

Sharks ancestry can be traced back 450 million years, some 200 million years before the first dinosaurs came to life.

The "newest" shark is the hammerhead, which first appeared about 25 million years ago. The great white shark dates back at least 60 million years.

About half the world's 350 shark species grow only to 3 feet long or less and more than...