So far in 2019, there have been 36 total shark attacks around the world, according to the Global Shark Attack File, and it hasn’t stopped. Recently, there are 3 survivors of shark attack in North Carolina only which have been covered by the large media.
The latest was an 8 year old boy who was swimming off the coast and got attacked near North Carolina’s Bald Head Island and left with leg wounds. Thankfully, Authorities acted quickly, took the boy by ferry to a local hospital and he’s expected to make a full recovery.
Before this boy, there were two teenagers who got attacked by the shark. First was Paige Winter who was attacked at Atlantic Beach and it was quite severe that she had to have her left leg amputated. And only about a week later, a 19-year-old Austin Reed while he was swimming off Ocean Isle Beach.
Winter was just at the beach with her family, dipping in waist-deep water when the shark pulled her under. The teenager said that her body went into shock and stopped feeling pain eventually. She also said that she tried to get the animal off of her, but it was too strong.
Fortunately, her father, Charlie Winter, knew her situation and managed to punch the shark away. He said, “I pulled her up. You could see the shark come up right with her. And then I just immediately just start beating it with everything I could. He was just staring at my sideways, just the biggest, blackest eye piercing. It was just no negotiating with it.”
Because of her amputation, the teenager and her family is still adjusting and working on to get used to her new condition. And even though the shark has wounded her in the worst way, Winter said she didn’t feel any anger to the shark and she forgave it.
“This situation has urged me to learn more about sharks. Because even in the back of that ambulance and in the back of that truck, I was like, ‘Guys, sharks are still good people. Like, don’t get mad at the shark. The shark is fine. I was just trying to assure them that me and that shark are good, like, we’re good,” said the teenage girl.
International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History reported that the number of worldwide unprovoked shark attacks had grown steadily since 1900, and each decade brought more attacks than the previous.
Statistically, fatal incidents involving sharks are very rare. According to the museum, an ocean swimmer has only a one in 11.5 million chance of being bitten by a shark. But recently in North Carolina’s beaches the attacks have increased quite a lot.
If this doesn’t stop, officials said that any curious shark which are swimming within 50 meters of the shore could be considered aggressive and therefore euthanized. That, of course, prompted criticism from shark experts who said that those sharks wouldn’t likely be in the area for long. I personally also disagree because it will only add more irrational fear of sharks.
What kinds of sharks attack humans?
George Burgess, who studies shark attacks at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said that the main culprit of typical shark attacks are either tiger or bull sharks. These two species are usually found right along the coast and they’re known to bite people.
You think great white can also attack you? Think that what you saw in Jaws films are true? Absolutely. Although, great white are not the ones that do it occasionally, since incidents also involve mako, nurse, lemon, and spinner sharks too.
Basically, a lot of sharks have the potential to hurt you. A big yikes.
Why do sharks attack people?
Although sharks do attack humans, they don’t do it like dolphins kill something just because. Humans are not sharks’ menu and they bite us out of curiosity or to defend themselves. Ever seen a video where a great white got into a diver’s cage and sort of attacked people in it? That’s what provoked attack is.
The majority of shark incidents are a lot more provoked. People who tried to release sharks from a line or net and got bitten are the victims of provoked attacks as well. If it’s unprovoked, it’s because this species mistakes us for their usual prey, usually because they don’t have a clear vision.
Surfers are the number one victims of sharks because they spend a long time in the water, splash around like shark’s prey, and their boards might look like something they eat. So it’s absolutely nothing personal.
Why the increased shark attacks?
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the increase could also be caused by better reporting than decades before. Another explanation would be the increased amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the chances of interaction between sharks and humans, be it friendly or hostile.
But, there are also some other things that could be a factor. There was an area with high number of shark attacks (I saw it on NatGeo TV, I don’t remember what it’s called). And it turned out that around the attack area there was a meat processing company that dumped blood, carcass, and other things in the sea, resulting aggressiveness in the sharks.
Prevention and Action
Burgess said that swimming in the ocean is always a wildlife experience and people should always prepare themselves from attacks that are unlikely happening. One thing you can do before anything is avoid shark nursery grounds and don’t swim at dawn and dusk as well as during or after storms because the water gets cloudy. Avoid swimming near seals or other prey species and places where fishermen dump fish guts. Other than this,
Don’t dip into the water if you’re bleeding
A teeny tiny drop of blood can drive sharks crazy. If you think you’ve cut yourself or if you’re currently on your period, don’t dare dipping in the ocean water.
Remain vertical and avoid wearing bright swimsuits
Lying on your back is fun and relaxing, but you’ll look like a prey to the shark. Also, sharks can differentiate contrasts very well, so it’s best to not attract their unwanted attention.
Defend yourself and don’t play dead.
Meeting a shark is a heart-stops-beating-for-a-moment experience, that’s no doubt. If the shark just swims by, then you should quickly go back to the shore. But if you believe it’s going to attack you, prepare to defend yourself in any way you can.
The best areas to make sharks go away are its snout, eyes, and gills. Avoid using your bare hands or feet if you can, but if you have no other choice, be ready to punch the eyes or gills hard. National Geographic stated that you should never play dead, this method might work for hostile bear encounters, but not on sharks. If the shark has successfully bitten you, fight it as much as you can.
Burgess said, “I advise to be as aggressively defensive as you are able. ‘Playing dead’ does not work. Pound the shark in any way possible. Try to claw at the eyes and gill openings, two very sensitive areas.”