What to do if a shark is headed straight for you

Is it true that the best way to defend yourself against a shark is to punch its nose? To improve your chances of surviving a shark attack, we spoke with George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research and manager of the International Shark Attack File. Following is a transcript of the video.

My name is George Burgess. I serve as director of the Florida program for shark research.

If you see a shark while in the water, of course the first thing to do is to 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 have been with them before. Sometimes they get bit.

If the shark is actually coming at you and it looks like it is going to make contact with you, the nose is the sensitive spot. If you can bop it on the nose with your fist, it likely will veer away and, once again, you hopefully will have enough time to get out of the water.

Finally, in fact, if a sharks got you in its jaws, the eyes and the gill slits — the five openings behind the eyes — are very sensitive. And stick your fingers in there. Claw at them. Some people that have been bit have had success in getting them to open their mouths when you poke at their eye.

The odds of being attacked actually have never been lower than they are right now. Simply because we are putting so many people in the water, that it’s just like having extra lottery tickets thrown into the pool. So, individually, our odds of being attacked have never been lower.

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