Risk Management: Sharks and People

Common Sense Precautions for Shark Bite Prevention from Australian Government


Courtesy of: YouTube
User: Lesley Rochat

This little fun 1 minute video is fin-tastic. Rethink the Shark: Meet Wilson, an animated feller who tells of all the things around us that present more danger than sharks. He also reminds us that while we kill more than 70million of them a years, they kill only 5 of us. Isn’t it Time to Re-Think the Shark?

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Posted by
Melissa Smith
Vice President
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Common Sense Precautions for Shark Bite Prevention from Australian Government

Courtesy of the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities:
Link: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/species/sharks/index.html

“Many Australians are concerned about the risk of shark attack.
However, fatal shark attacks occur relatively infrequently in Australian waters – over the last 50 years there have been 53 fatal attacks, which is approximately one fatal attack per year.

There are some easy and commonsense precautions to take that can help reduce the risk of a shark attack. This risk minimisation advice is reproduced from the Australian Shark Attack File.”

– Swim at beaches that are patrolled by Surf Life Savers.

– Do not swim, dive or surf where dangerous sharks are known to congregate.

– Do not swim with dogs as dogs have an irregular gait when swimming and produce low frequency sounds in the water that attract sharks as quickly as those low frequency sounds produced by wounded fish

Dog Swimming in Ocean

– Always swim, dive or surf with other people.

– Do not swim in dirty or turbid water.

– Avoid swimming well offshore, near deep channels, at river mouths or along drop-offs to deeper water.

– If schooling fish start to behave erratically or congregate in large numbers, leave the water.

Shark Leaps Throgh Bait Fish

– Look carefully before jumping into the water from a boat or wharf.

– Do not swim a dusk or at night as these tend not only to be feeding times for sharks, but also for sea lions and seals which are themselves prey for sharks.

– Do not swim near people fishing or spear fishing.

– If a shark is sighted in the area leave the water as quickly and calmly as possible.

Melissa Smith
Vice President
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What you may not know about shark attacks and their senses.
by Melissa Smith 07/02/2013

Sharks are fascinating animals, and their contact with humans has caused many to fear them. There are many reasons that shark attacks have occurred and many more facts about the feeding habits of sharks. The following list is a compilaton of interesting pieces of information about Shark Attacks and related subjects… how much do you know about sharks?

  • Galeophobia is the excessive fear of sharks. It comes from the Greek word “galeos,” which was a particular type of shark.


  • While many people fear sharks and think of them as one of the world’s most aggressive and deadly animals, the chances of dying from a shark attack fall well below the chances of being killed by hornets, wasps, bees or dogs.


  • Of the average 30 to 50 shark attacks reported each year, only 5 to 10 prove to be fatal. So while being bitten by a shark is rare, dying from a shark bite is even rarer. As sensational as shark attacks are in newspaper headlines, the reality is that you’re more likely to be bitten by another person than a shark.


  • Unlike humans, whose upper jaw is a fixed part of the skull, a shark can dislocate and protrude its upper jaw to help it grab and hang onto prey. Talk about a big-mouth! (See picture below)
  • Sharks are especially susceptible to the moon’s control of ocean tides. The phase of the moon can affect sharks’ eating habits and draw them closer to shore … which in turn, can lead to increased attacks on humans.


  • Sharks respond to a sound known as a “yummy hum.” It’s not an actual hum, though. It’s an infrasonic sound (one that’s too low for humans to hear) that injured fish make, drawing sharks to an easy meal.


  • You may think of sharks as ravenous, man-eating terrors of the sea, but in reality, only 20 of the more than 350 species of shark — a small minority — are known to attack humans.


  • Different species of sharks have their own set of etiquette during a feeding frenzy, a rare occurrence when a large group of sharks all go after the same prey. Caribbean reef sharks, for example, follow a distinct pecking order in which the biggest shark eats first.


  • Surfers are more likely to die from drowning than from a shark attack, but it is true that great whites can be confused and intrigued by the shape of a surfboard. From beneath the surface, a great white might mistake the board’s outline for that of a seal, walrus or sea lion.


  • Instead of closing its eyelids, a great white shark rolls its eyes into the back of its
    head when it attacks. This behavior helps the shark protect its eyes from
    debris and the thrashing of its prey. (See picture below)Sharks Attack with eyes rolled back
  • A common myth is that sharks don’t attack in the middle of the day. And that may be true — but it’s likely because most beachgoers get out of the water to rest or eat at lunchtime, so there aren’t as many people around to cross paths with sharks. Sharks don’t follow the same three meals-a-day eating schedule as humans, they eat when they find food, no matter what time it is.


  • Sharks can use heartbeats to track their prey. Sharks have nodules on their noses about the size of a pimple, called ampullae of Lorenzini. These nodules sense electricity, so the electrical pulses that come from a beating heart can act like a beacon for nearby sharks.


  • One of the worst shark attacks in history was the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. Nearly 900 sailors were stranded in the Philippine Sea near Guam for four days. Experts can’t be sure how many sailors lost their lives to sharks, but when help arrived, only 316 people were still alive.


  • Great white sharks are picky eaters. Their diet requires lots of fat, and after one bite a great white shark can determine whether or not the meal will satisfy its nutritional needs. If it doesn’t, the shark will leave the rest and swim away.


  • If you’re watching a circling shark and wondering if it’s about to attack its prey, here are the clues: The shark will hunch its back, lower its pectoral fins (the ones near its belly) and swim in zigzag motions. (See below Picture)
    Great White Shark About to Attack Based on Body Language 650x407


  • If a shark sinks its teeth into your arms during a shark attack, your best bet is to latch on to the shark. Sharks like to whip their prey around in order to break off chunks of meat, so the closer you stay to the shark, the better your chance of keeping your limb.


  • Electroreception allows sharks to notice the smallest changes in the electricity conducted through saltwater. Blood in the water changes its conductivity. So, sharks don’t see blood and attack: They sense and smell it.


  • From 1580 to 2007, there were a reported 64 fatal great white shark attacks. Sharks haven’t fared as well: When you count every species, millions of sharks are killed by humans every year.
    Finned Shark On Beach 700x394
  • Sharks do not all need to spend their lives in the salt water of the ocean. Bull sharks have a fondness for freshwater. They’ve been spotted in bays, lagoons and even rivers, sometimes thousands of miles inland.


  • It’s possible that shark repellants could come from an unlikely source: magnets.
    Magnets in the water can interfere with a shark’s electroreception. Don’t just
    strap on some magnets and head to the beach, though. With current technology,
    sharks have to get very close to the magnets before they’re affected.


  • Sound waves travel fast and far in water, so sharks have no trouble picking up low-pitched noises from movements such as fish schools, swimmers and even Coast Guard helicopters flying low over the ocean.


  • In the extremely rare event that a shark bites you, it probably won’t take a second taste. In attacks on humans, sharks typically bite, hold on for a few seconds and then let go once they realize they’re not tasting a sea creature.


  • One reason shark attacks occur around Australia’s South Coast and California in the USA because government protection of sea mammals, like seals, sea lions, has increased their populations off the West Coast. There’s more food for sharks there, and humans just get in the way.


  • The dangerous act of swimming in cold water can actually boost the odds of survival for a shark attack victim. The cold water causes your body temperature to drop. You’ll be at risk for hypothermia, but your blood loss will slow down, buying you some time for rescue.


  • Sharks can generate up to 40,000 pounds per square inch of pressure in a single bite. That’s easily enough to chomp a meaty limb right off. This is also why some shark attacks prove to be fatal even though the shark’s bite is usually for exploratory reasons, not to eat a person.


  • Sharks that eat their siblings’ eggs in the womb aren’t vicious. They’re just seeking out nutrients to sustain themselves as they grow.

Melissa Smith
Vice President
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