It was never the same after Jaws. In one movie our fear of the sea was justified for ever in our subconscious and now every swimmer has the deep down fear that, one day, those enormous teeth will come out of the water and take us down forever.
Experts tell us there are only a handful of shark attacks every year and few of these are fatal. Call us wimps but it seems bad enough to get bitten in the first place. In fairness, most shark attacks take place in areas where the local fishing has been disturbed by manmade developments on the coast or by unusual weather.
Humans are not really part of a shark’s diet but a surfer lying on his board may resemble a turtle and become dinner. Sharks normally feed at night and deep below the water. If they surface then they’re probably hungry. If you see fins beginning to circle then you’re definitely in trouble.
Just because you see a fin though doesn’t mean it’s a shark. It could be the flipper of a whale of a dolphin although these will usually submerge or show themselves soon after. The sharks that may be out to get you are the great whites the tiger sharks, the mako, the hammerhead sharks, the bull and the nurse sharks. Most of them are to be found on the north east coast of Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and of course, Australia.
The SAS Survival Handbook has some choice advice for those caught in shark-infested waters.
– It suggests avoiding the release of body fluids like vomit, shit or piss – and if you must pee, let it out in short, concentrated bursts.
– Sharks are cowards, it tells us, and may be repelled by a god jab on the nose with a sharp object.
Further advice includes:
– Shouting beneath the water to scare the shark away.
– Joining together with other swimmers back to back and kicking outwards. Like a chorus line.