What to Do If a Shark Attacks

Shark attacks are rare, according to Dr. Chris Lowe, director of the California State University Long Beach Shark Lab. He explains that while the research isn’t clear as to why they attack humans at all, statistics suggest that there are two types of attacks: unprovoked and provoked. 

Unprovoked attacks generally occur as a result of mistaken identity. In these situations, a shark may bite a person thinking he or she is a seal or similar prey, and will stop and swim away once it realizes what it’s bitten.

Provoked attacks occur when the shark feels threatened and wants you to go away.

Dr. Lowe offers the following tips in case you encounter a shark:

  • Stay in groups. Shark bites rarely occur when there are several people together.
  • If you see a shark, face it and keep your eyes on it as you back toward the beach. Sharks like to sneak up on their prey, and if they know you see them, they will move on.
  • If the shark approaches you, splash at it and hit the gills around the eyes or its nose.
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