George Burgess, the director for the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History and contributor to “SharkFest,” explains what people can do to avoid a shark attack. Following is a transcript of the video.
Shark attacks have been increasing. They’ve actually been increasing for the last 11 decades.
When we enter the sea, it’s a wilderness experience. If you’re paranoid about getting bitten, obviously stay outside of the water. Work on your suntan, drink a cold one on the beach, enjoy the scenery. But if you go in the water, you know that there’s going to be some risk, and it’s our duty to reduce that risk if we can.
How do we do that reduction? Well, first of all we can go out in groups.
There’s safety in numbers. There’s a reason why fishes are in schools and antelopes are in herds. It’s because there’s safety there. So go together as a group. Don’t become isolated, because carnivores such as sharks go after the lonely person.
Don’t go in the water between dusk and dawn — time periods when sharks are most active in feeding. Avoid certain areas where sharks are likely to be found: inlets, channels. If you see seabirds diving, if you see fishes jumping, if you see humans fishing off of the shoreline, that means there’s fish around. If there’s fish, there’s probably sharks.
So just by doing those common-sense sort of things, we can reduce our risk.
If you see a shark while in the water, of course the first thing to do is get out, if you can. And that seems obvious to most people, but surfers in particular, who swim a lot in the water and see sharks, oftentimes don’t worry about it, because they’ve been with them before. And then sometimes they get bit. So get out of the water if you see a shark.
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