Are Shark Attacks on the Rise?
In recent years, it seems shark attacks have been making headlines more than ever. Are the oceans getting more dangerous?
But Ritter prefers to talk about shark
"accidents" -- not attacks. Emergency physician Richard Nateman, MD,
"Humans are not really what [sharks]
want. When they get a human, that's a mistake," he tells WebMD. They do
want fish, so the best strategy for avoiding a shark attack is not looking like
a fish, he explains.
Sharks usually won't attack someone who's
standing or in a vertical position. "They want to attack horizontal things
because they know fish are horizontal," he says. Nateman is CEO of South
Florida Emergency Physicians at Baptist Hospital in Miami and has seen about a
dozen shark victims during his years at the hospital.
Even though the risk of attack is low, you
may still want to take steps to further limit that risk. Nateman and Ritter
offer the following tips:
Swim where lifeguards can see
Swim where other people are
Know how to do CPR -- that's a good idea
for many reasons.
Avoid swimming during dusk and dawn. This
is when sharks have the best vision and are looking for food.
Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances,
channels, and steep drop-offs. "Murky water is attractive to sharks because
it has more nutrients," Ritter explains. "Steep drop-offs or anything
that increases the current has more available food ... so that brings in more
If you do encounter a shark, what should
Stay calm. "Sharks ... can sense your
speeded-up heart rate," says Ritter.
If the shark has seen you, never ever swim
away from it. Stay still.
Even if they bump into you, do not move.
That's how they check you out.
Don't struggle and splash. You don't want
to look like a struggling fish.
If a group of people see a shark close by,
they shouldn't huddle together. Instead, try to stay at least a body length
away from the next person.