Every season we learn about new and new cases of shark attacks on bathers. That is, the shark is a terrible, very dangerous enemy of man? - Not really. About it said Olga, Director of the group of companies "Big Ocean", a specialist in shark tourism and a diver with sharks Veronika Birman.
August 7 in New York shark bitten A 65-year-old Ukrainian woman who swam on Rockaway Beach. The woman allegedly lost 9 kg of flesh and is in the hospital. This is how the shark looks in our minds: a ruthless aggressive predator, constantly looking for opportunities to feast on humans. But actually it is not.
They are the same animals as stray dogs and wild cats. Wolves, cows and horses annually kill 2-4 times more people, and elephants - 100 times more people than sharks, but no one suggests exterminating all the horses, wolves, tigers and elephants on the planet - on the contrary, there are charitable foundations for the protection these unique animals.
However, incidents with cows, say, and with horses, we write off as “accidents”, and the attack of sharks is a consequence of their innate bloodthirstiness towards people. And again, this is not true. A shark attack is an accident. Let's see why - and how to avoid it, or, if it happens, how to increase your chances of survival.
Why do sharks attack
It is important to understand and remember that we are not part of the shark diet. We are too exotic food for them, bony and not very tasty. And divers also need to be cleaned, as we joke. But they can attack a person for several reasons.
1. Injured or sick shark, which has lost the ability to hunt normally and tries to eat everything (or at least something) that can only be reached.
2. Curiosity. When you - or your cat - is interested in something, you can look at it, smell it, and "touch it with your paw." Sharks don't have legs. The shark will navigate by smell, by electric fields (a separate organ is responsible for the perception of which in a shark - the ampullae of Lorenzini), by sight. And if all this tells her that this is something interesting, the shark, out of curiosity, will try it on the tooth. What if it's something she's supposed to be? Very often, "trial bites" end with the shark losing interest and retreating. Another thing is that such a “test” can be fatal for a person.
3. Mistake. If the shark is used to eating fur seals. And if something looks like a cat (a surfboard with surfer limbs rowing from it) splashes on the surface - it is very possible that this is something as tasty as an injured cat. And if it’s something else that glitters like fish scales (for example, a chain around your neck), then in general, you need to get down to your immediate duties.
4. Fright. Just like a dog or cat cornered, a chased or frightened shark will attack in self-defense. And just like a dog or a cat, she will warn about this with her behavior. It’s just that we are used to the behavior of dogs and cats: the dog will growl and bare its teeth, fall on its front paws. The cat will hiss or purr, arch its back and wag its tail furiously. Believe it or not, sharks also arch their backs, wag their tails frantically and “fall on their front legs” - lower their side fins down - before attacking. Only you may not notice it.
5. Provocation. There is a lot of food or smells of food in the water, which includes feeding behavior in sharks, and then everything is food. Unfortunate incidents can also be included here: for example, in Egypt, before the holiday of Aid al-Adha, a ferry with rams intended for the holiday sank. As environmentalists had warned, a shark attack on a human downstream was not long in coming. Disposal of food waste into the water, conscious feeding, fishing and spearfishing (fighting and dying fish) are ideal bait for sharks, as they fulfill their role as "reef orderlies".
How to behave around a shark
In order to avoid unpleasant contact with a shark, we need to complete four tasks:
- See a shark.
- Explain to her that we are not prey, but not a threat (for this we will need to stop acting like prey).
- Stay away from the shark's mouth specifically, not from the shark in general.
- Measuredly and calmly move towards land or a boat, maintaining eye contact and controlling the situation.
The first thing to start with is not to swim without a mask and fins (or at least swimming goggles) in places where shark encounters are possible. Swimming goggles do not take up much space, do not interfere with swimming in any way, but will allow you to have good control over the situation around you - and look at colorful reef fish, and notice larger fish. Flippers will help you get out of the unpleasant zone faster, but remember that in any case, the shark swims much faster than you.
Do not swim alone at dusk, at dawn or at sunset, or in troubled waters. Poor visibility is ideal for sharks and attack (it's good to sneak up when no one can see you) and cause for increased curiosity, and dawn, dusk and night are also the most active hunting times. You remember: if it is difficult for a shark to see something, it will try it on the tooth. Especially if she's in the middle of her breakfast or dinner.
If you notice a shark, you should move smoothly and very calmly towards the boat, shore, reef or group of people. Not creating splashes, because splashes, splashes and hype will only attract the attention of the shark - and confirm it in the opinion that this is a very sick creature that it is supposed to rid the ocean of. Shark diet - in the first place - weak, sick or injured animals. How does such a creature behave? Splashes in agony on the surface. The analogy is clear.
What will you do if a stray dog behaves aggressively towards you? The last thing on your mind is to turn your back and run screaming, right? Most likely, you will stop, stand still and look into the eyes of the dog. Take a stone or branch for self-defense. Perhaps you will take a threatening step towards or swing. With a shark, you need to do about the same ⇓
Rules of conduct if a shark is next to you
1. Maintain eye contact at all times, at all times. Whenever possible, look directly into the shark's eyes (eye) - so that the shark understands that it has been noticed and is being seen. To attack, the shark will try to enter from the blind zone. Do not believe it, she is also afraid of you, and will try to attack safely - so that she herself is not seen.
2. Become visually larger for the shark. If possible, snuggle up to the reef / to the stone / gather in a group of people. If this is not possible, stay perpendicular to the shark so that it assesses your height and your entire size.
3. Even if the heart goes to the heels, stay calm – move measuredly, do not make sudden movements and do not create splashes and splashes. Remember, this will attract the shark, not scare it away.
4. If a shark is coming straight at you - still try to look into the shark's eye so that it can see you. Stretch forward any object (if you have one - for example, an action camera, or if you can pick it up - a stone, a piece of dead coral) - or a hand with your palm towards the shark as if with a stop sign. You can make a slow, small, but confident movement towards the shark - not threatening, but showing that you see it and you understand its intentions (I remind you that you still won’t be able to swim away from the shark until it loses interest in you).
5. If these actions did not stop the shark, and it attacks you, you need to put the same outstretched hand on the nose (carefully, there are teeth under it), the top or back of the shark and right now calmly “push” it to the side - take it away , redirect the muzzle past you in any direction - much easier: right, left, down, up - where it works and which vector will be more consistent with the movement of the shark. Since you are in the water, this action will both take the shark's head away from you and push you away from the shark. This is not fantasy, this is the reality of shark tourism: there are dozens of videos on the Internet with divers and freedivers doing this procedure.
6. If it didn’t work out with the lapel of the shark, and it stubbornly moves forward and precisely towards you, you should straighten the arm placed on the nose or head of the shark until the elbow is blocked - in this way the shark can only push you, or turn away, but it will not be able to approach you come closer. Let me remind you that the tail, back and fins of the shark do not threaten us, only the teeth threaten us.
7. Opinions differ on whether or not to hit a shark. Sharks have extremely sensitive eyes, gills and nose - these are the areas that will be most suitable for a strike. It is important that the “peacefully passing by” shark does not react to this with retaliatory aggression, as if it were a sudden attack. But if you have already been attacked, obviously, all means will be good. No matter how curious or hungry a shark is, its injury will doom it to starvation in the ocean, so it is likely that it will leave in search of more accommodating, defenseless and less risky prey.
8. Measuredly and calmly, without losing eye contact and the recommendations above, move towards the exit from the water to the boat or land. It may take a few repetitions to explain to the shark that you are not prey and should be left alone, but it still increases your chances compared to trying to outrun the shark with speed in its native environment. (How does the prey behave? - Runs away and actively splashes.) And remember that shallow water is still not a safe zone.
Are sharks dangerous?
Of course, like any wild or "homeless" animal with teeth. Like packs of stray dogs or predators of more familiar habitats - forests. The main thing is to learn to understand them and remember that we are in their habitat - we are guests in their oceans, which occupy 70% of the Earth's surface. And they protect this very ocean - for themselves and for us.
Why sharks are important
It is important to remember that sharks are an important and integral part of the ocean ecosystem. Sharks will die - there will be no fish in the ocean, and global warming on the planet will accelerate at an unprecedented pace. How is this related? Very simple. Sharks are orderlies and reef controllers. First of all, they eat old, sick and weak fish, thereby preventing the spread of fish diseases (which can potentially lead to epidemics - and it remains to be seen how they will affect humans) and water pollution.
Conventionally, scientists still cannot fully investigate fish diseases, their development and risks, because sick fish disappear into the mouths of sharks faster than scientists can get to them. Secondly, sharks make sure that there are not too many fish species: there will be no sharks - reef and “herbivorous” fish species will begin to multiply and multiply intensively, and sooner or later they will simply eat all the corals and algae.
On the subject: Five things you need to know about sharks on New York beaches
Coral reefs will disappear, along with them their inhabitants will disappear, and behind them - those who hunt these inhabitants, except for sharks (for example, our beloved tuna). The same will happen to algae, which absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide - welcome to accelerated climate change and less oxygen on the planet. Unfortunately, the fact that the decline in the shark population leads to the death of coral reefs, in Fiji was convinced by experience.
By the way, do you know what people do with thousands of sharks around the world every day? They cut off all the fins for shark soup and throw the shark into the water to die a hard painful death from suffocation - the shark can only breathe when it moves. I can't imagine people being talked about on shark TV.