May 14, 2021

What to do if a shark attacks you?

We here so much about shark attacks that it would be fair to assume they are a regular occurrence. They are not. Shark attacks that result in death are particularly rare. Yet thanks to the media (talking to you Jaws) and people’s love of things that are scary, we have built up the shark to be a monster that is always waiting at the water’s edge. The reality is very different. However, if you are ever attacked by a shark, we have some tips to help.

Sharks attack around 80 people in the world every year. If that sounds like a lot then you are terrible at maths. There are 7 billion people in this world and only 80 are attacked each year. There is more chance of you winning an Oscar than there is being attacked by a shark. If death is what scares you then you have little to worry about. Sharks only kill around 4 people in the world every year. The odds are incredibly low. Of course, if you are a surfer your odds vastly improve (in a bad way) as it is then 1 in 25,000 chance of getting fatally attacked by a shark. 

If you are ever attacked by a shark, would you know what to do? Most people would scream and thrash in the water. As we know from Jaws, this is a bad idea. It will only attract the shark to your position and likely annoying him if you have an annoying voice. Instead, if you are attacked by a shark the advice that is given by experts is to punch him in the face. Sharks don’t really like getting punched in the face and seals aren’t known to do it. If you punch them in the face they quickly realize you are not a seal and are not so pleasant. While this may sound absolutely ridiculous it has proven to work on a number of occasions. 

Legendary surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during competition and managed to getaway. There is footage available online of the entire attack. Mike Coots was another surfer who was attacked. He wasn’t as fortunate as Fanning. Coots was surfing near his home spot when the shark attack took place. He didn’t hear the dun nun music, he didn’t hear the shark coming, he didn’t see a fin. The first moment he knew he was being attacked by a shark was when it bit his leg. He felt his leg go heavy as if a large weight was on it and immense pressure. That realization soon turned to pain. He looked around saw the shark and instinct took over. He started to punch the shark in the face until he let go. He then called for help and his friends came to help him. Only then did he realize, he was missing the lower half of his leg.
Coots spent a long time in the hospital recovering. Doctors say the only reason he survived was that one of his friends tied the leash around his leg to limit blood loss. As coots recovered in the hospital you can imagine that he was pretty mad at the shark. If we were in the same position perhaps we would want revenge. Not Coots. He did want to know why though. Why on that day in that place did the shark attack? Coots started to research and while he never found an explanation, he did discover something else.

Coots realized that sharks are far more in danger from humans than we are from them. While they kill four of us a year we kill many more of them. Shark fin soup is the main reason. Coots changed his entire career to start to focus on helping sharks and banning the hunting of them. He sees them as a misunderstood animal. If anyone knows, it is him, as part of his leg belongs to a shark now.