The Best Way To Survive A Shark Attack

First off, remember that human beings kill approximately 100 million sharks a year, per The New York Times Magazine. On the other hand, in 2017, unprovoked shark attacks killed just five human beings. So clearly the sharks have more to worry about than we do. There's also the fact that not all sharks pose a danger to humans who are, let's face it, invading their watery turf. In fact, whale sharks are even known to allow people to grab on and hitch a ride.

That being said, according to Sarah Waries of Cape Town's Shark Spotters, "Sharks are everywhere. They're in all the oceans." Although not every shark attack on a human being results in a fatality, it's still nothing to sneeze at. CNN Travel tells us that the odds of a negative interaction, so to speak, with a shark are pretty slim: one in 11.5 million. Still, it happens. These are "apex predators who possess the destructive power of a table saw," says Mental Floss. So if Your Worst Day Ever happens, what should you do — beyond not insulting the shark's mother?

Some places are best avoided for swimming — for instance, near a fishing boat, or at the mouths of rivers that empty into the ocean. Time of day is a factor as well — early morning and late at night, while romantic, are prime hunting times for the finny predators.

Aim for the eyes

Most people know that sharks have highly developed sensory organs and can detect — and be attracted to — extremely slight amounts of blood. Menstruating women should stay out of the water; if you cut yourself in the water, get out as soon as possible. Fun fact: some sharks are also attracted to urine. So — don't. And if you do, get out of the water.

But let's say you've broken all of the above rules and the shark is headed your way with "entree" in its beady eyes. Don't bother trying to outswim it. But also, don't panic. (Easier said than done, right?) Don't thrash. Sometimes you can stare it down, so try to maintain eye contact — they prefer to strike from ambush. If it's a smaller shark, try to look big. If it's a Great White, however, try to be as small as possible, and therefore not as interesting as prey. And if worse comes to worst, you can always fight back — punch, kick, even scratch at sensitive areas like the gills or the eyes. The legend is you can punch it in the nose, but honestly, that's right above the mouth — and the teeth. Says Richard Peirce, former chairman of the UK-based Shark Trust charity, odds of escaping without some injury are pretty slim. "If a white shark is in full attack mode, there's not much you're going to be able to do at that point."