The How Shark Attacks work.


How do shark attacks work?

You don’t even have to have seen the movie Jaws to be terrified of sharks. It seems that all year long, we hear of these gigantic creatures attacking humans, whether the people were surfing, riding on a boat, or even just enjoying the shallow water along the coast. Shark attacks definitely are extremely frightening, with very few of the shark’s victims surviving the attack. And they may also seem quite random, ready to happen at any moment that you might be in a body of water where sharks live. But truthfully, when you study shark attacks, you can see that they’re not so random after all and that sharks follow patterns and look for particular things before they decide that they’re going to attack. Here we’ll look at the reasons why sharks attack, what happens during an attack, and what types of sharks are most likely to attack humans. But we wouldn’t give you all this information just to frighten you! And because of that, we’ll also look at how you can protect yourself from a shark attack.

Why They Attack

It’s been estimated that about 90% of shark attacks involving humans are a mistake. This means that these sharks didn’t actually intend to eat or bite humans, and that they just mistook them for something else. Sharks are near the very top of the food chain and as such, they need lots of meat and fat to keep their gigantic muscles moving. When they do attack prey, they’re doing so because that’s what their instincts are telling them to do, not because they are vicious beasts that are just searching for the next human to claim as their victim. And if given the choice, sharks most likely wouldn’t even choose humans as a meal because we simply do not have enough fat on us to give their body mass enough energy. The most common forms of prey for sharks are sea lions, whales, sea turtles, seals, and fish.

So why do they attack? Even if it’s in their instincts, if we don’t provide enough fat and muscle for them, why do sharks attack humans? It’s most often because sharks mistake humans in the water for being something else. Take the case of a surfer, for instance. Surfers are often the prey of sharks because they are in the water a lot, and they look amazingly similar to a shark’s prey. Imagine a surfer on a board, paddling his way out to sea. The shark sees a moving object that’s oval or long-shaped in the middle, and has moving appendages on either side. When you’re looking at this shape from the underside, or from a shark’s point of view, this looks remarkably similar to a sea lion or a sea turtle swimming in the water.

But sharks are usually also very quick to realize their mistake. If they do end up biting a human, they will usually recognize this mistake once they bite. They may hang on for a few seconds, but they will eventually let go. In fact, sharks will very rarely actually eat a human being. The reason then, that so many people die from shark attacks is simply because the person loses far too much blood. Because of the razor-sharp teeth that a shark has, and the amazing size of their mouths, it only takes one bite to do severe damage. Some people are lucky enough to get out only losing an arm or leg instead of their life. The person, after being bitten, is then injured in the water. They may not be able to call for help, or they may not get help soon enough. This is the biggest reason why shark attacks can end up being fatal for human beings, not because sharks eat humans.

Of course, one of the most commonly known traits of sharks is that they are attracted to the smell of blood. And this is actually true, and another reason why sharks sometimes attack. Sharks detect this blood through their snout. In a shark’s snout there are detectors called ampullae of Lorenzini. These detectors are actually cells that connect to the snout through many small tubes. When fish, or other animals, get attacked in the water, they send off electrical signals during the struggle. These electrical signals are a result of a fish’s aggression, or fear. This, combined with the smell of blood, activates the shark’s receptors in their snout and they will then be attracted to the fight. Once a shark arrives on the scene, they may become excessively agitated or excited by the amount of food that’s available for them. And if there’s a human in the midst, the chances are good that the human will get mistaken for prey. This is one reason why spear fishermen are often caught in a shark attack.

Sometimes, sharks attack simply to display the power they have over a situation, and not because they’re actually hungry. Some types of sharks, such as great white sharks, are known for being especially dominant. This means that should they run into another shark, they’re most likely to nudge and bite the second shark, simply to show that they are the dominant shark. The other shark will leave unscathed, because their incredibly thick skin will not even get broken from these bites. But if a dominant shark should meet up with a human, these nudges and bites are likely to do extreme damage.

And, although it may be hard to understand, some sharks attack in response to human aggression. While a human is not likely to purposely irritate a shark that’s known to be aggressive, such as a great white shark, some people think it’s okay to agitate other types of sharks that are known for being more docile. Nurse sharks, for instance, spend much of their time simply lying on the ocean floor. They don’t move very much, and they are certainly not aggressive by nature. However, some deep sea divers have been known to try and show their bravado by doing things such as playing with their tail, or otherwise getting too close to it. In this instance, even the tamest sharks have been known to attack humans and cause severe harm.

How it Happens

Unfortunately for the human that’s been marked as prey, there is very little warning before a shark attack, if any at all. The first indication that a person may have is the look of terror in the eyes of a swimmer nearby. In that case, there is no chance that the person can out-swim the shark. More often, the first indication that a shark attack is about to happen, is when it’s already happening. This is when the swimmer, or human in the water, feels a giant smack or thump in some part of their body. And this is the part of the body that the shark has bitten. Obviously in this case, there is no chance for escape until the shark has decided that it has enough. Fortunately, and the only reason why there are survivors of a shark attack, this usually doesn’t take very long.

Sharks of course, attack from below the surface of the water. They will swim up and grab their prey by taking a massive bite out of them. They will then drag their victim’s body below the surface of the water. Sometimes this is done with such force that sea lions and seals have actually flown quite a few feet above the surface of the water before being dragged down by the shark. After that initial bite, the shark will then allow their prey’s body to bleed out and float to the surface, where the shark will then return and finish their meal (if the prey is suitable.)

Not all sharks will attack in this pattern though. Some species of sharks in deep sea waters will circle their prey. This is most often when there is a sinking ship, or a plane that has crashed in the ocean, leaving survivors in the water. In these cases, sharks will swarm and begin to circle the victims. They will usually nudge or poke the outer victims before deciding to take their massive bite. Tiger sharks are particularly known for circling their prey before making an attack.

And still, other sharks have different patterns before they attack. The bull shark for example, is not like other sharks in the way that they will strike and then leave their prey for a few minutes. Instead, a bull shark will bite their prey, then circle around it, then come back and bite again. Bull sharks can do this over and over again, which is one reason why they are some of the most dangerous types of sharks. In some documented cases, such as that of a 14-year old girl off the coast of Florida, the bull shark won’t even stop attacking once rescuers arrive on the scene. In that particular case, the bull shark not only persisted with the 14-year old girl, but even tried to attack the rescue workers.

Where Sharks are Located

The simple and scary truth is that sharks are everywhere. Although sharks are known mostly to reside in tropical waters, there are many species of sharks that actually prefer cooler water. There’s also a very common misperception that sharks only reside in deep sea water. But some sharks, such as the bull shark, which is known to be the most dangerous type of shark, prefer shallow water. Bull sharks also aren’t particular about whether or not they reside and attack in fresh or salt water. Because of this, bull sharks are sometimes found in rivers and streams, where they certainly don’t belong.

There are thought to be about 30 and 50 unprovoked shark attacks that occur each year around the world. Unprovoked attacks are considered to be those where the human did not interfere with the shark before being attacked. Out of these attacks, 5 to 10 of them usually end up taking the life of the victim. The United States has by far the most attacks every year than any other in the world. It’s thought that 10 to 35 of the attacks in the world happen in Florida alone.

The number of shark attacks has risen over the past decade or so but this is not due to sharks becoming more aggressive or more violent. This is simply because more people are becoming increasingly interested in enjoying water activities, and enjoying coastal water. In some areas, such as off the western coast of San Francisco, there has also been a large increase in aquatic life such as sea lions and seals. This has also attributed to a greater number of sharks in the area, particularly great white sharks. However, in these areas warnings are usually sent out that there are a greater number of sharks in the area and so, shark attacks don’t often increase just because the number of sharks does.

How to Protect Yourself

So with all the frightening statistics, and with sharks being very unpredictable animals, it may seem sometimes as though you’re doomed to be bitten by a shark. This is especially true when it’s prime season for shark attacks, and it seems as though they’re everywhere. High media coverage also perpetuates the belief that shark attacks happen more often than they actually do. And even though people may sometimes exaggerate the possibility of a shark attack, it’s still a good idea to know how to protect yourself. Here are few things you can do.

The first thing you can do to protect yourself is not to swim at dawn or dusk. These are the times when sharks are most likely to feed and, it’s harder for sharks to see in the water at these times so they’re more likely to mistake a human for another animal of prey. Another thing that hinders a shark’s visibility is murky water so it’s best to stay clear of these areas as well.

Of course, sharks are also highly attracted to blood and even small amounts of it can lead a shark right to you. For this reason, it’s best not to swim with even the smallest open cut anywhere on your body and some experts have also warned menstruating women to stay out of the water because sharks can smell the blood. But there are also less obvious traces of blood that you may not think of, but that a shark certainly will. Things like shark bait, including small dead fish that may have open cuts, or animal blood, will most definitely attract sharks, as the name suggests. While this may seem like an obvious thing to avoid, some people fish while standing in open water and don’t think about it. While fishing, it’s always best to leave the bait in a boat or somewhere else that is not right in the water.

Because sharks can see what you’re wearing, this should also be taken into consideration when trying to avoid shark attacks. Things such as contrasting or bright colors can confuse a shark and cause them to attack. Also, things like shiny jewellery can also grab the attention of a shark and draw them to you.

Another very important tip is to not swim or go in water where a shark’s prey resides in great numbers. A shark will surely come to catch a snack and you may end up being part of it. Areas like sandbars, sea mounts, and drop-offs are popular places for a shark’s prey to congregate so try to distance yourself from them.

Shark Attacks.

 How Shark Attacks work.