Understanding Shark Behavior on Beaches

Understanding Shark Behavior on Beaches

If you’re an ocean lover, Australia and South Africa are irresistible destinations like many other destinations where you also find sharks in the water.
 
From world-class surfing to adventure-filled dives, the coastline’s menu of attractions has something for everyone.
 
But a lot of the action takes place in shark territory, where knowing something about how they behave can significantly reduce risks. Here are nine things you should remember around beaches with sharks.
 

Tips for Understanding Shark Behavior

Know the Sharks You’re Diving With

For the most part, sharks will swim away from you when you enter their world. But, species such as bull and tiger sharks are inquisitive by nature, and may not. Instead, they may swim straight towards you, and even bump into you. By expecting this sort of behavior, you can prep yourself to respond without panic.
 

Don’t Hang Around the Surface

When you’re in shark territory, consider how they perceive things in their environment. For example, dead animals float on the surface, are easy meals, and count as targets. Remember not to hang around the surface when you’re scuba diving because sharks may mistake you for a carcass. 
 

Technique

Make your strokes as smooth as you can if you ever have to paddle or swim away from sharks. Panicking will draw them to you.
 
Sharks also have special senses they use to detect disturbances in the water. Sharks perceive these occurrences as signs of wounded fish. As a scuba diver, make sure you have good buoyancy control, or you may risk sending the wrong signals to sharks.
 

Look Down

Be aware of your surroundings while you’re in the water. Sharks could swim toward you from below. You should also keep an eye on what’s below you while you’re getting back on board your boat.
 

Hands Off

The surest way to get bitten is to touch or chase after sharks. Put safety first by staying at least three meters away from them. 
 

Give Sharks Right-of-Way

If a shark come close while you’re in the water, stop, remain calm and let them pass. Never swim towards them. Sharks will perceive that as a threat, whether they’re relatively placid ragged-tooth sharks, or notoriously aggressive bull or tiger sharks. Rather swim around them.
 
Also, give sharks space. They normally attack divers because they feel cornered.
 

Stay Away From Where Sharks Hunt

Sharks are ambush hunters. If you’re unfamiliar with the dive site and the visibility is poor, stay away from the areas that sharks use to surprise their prey. Look out for caves, overhangs, drop offs, deep water channels, and the edges of kelp forests.
 

Avoid Startling Sharks

Be careful with camera flashes, strobes and dive lights if you’re doing a cageless shark dive. You don’t want to scare them off.
 

Use the Right Gear

Avoid wearing jewelry or contrasting colors when you’re in the ocean. If you don’t, sharks may mistake the shimmer you give off for fish scales. Rather stick with a black wetsuit.

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