Why swimming naked can protect against shark attacks

Why swimming naked can protect against shark attacks

An Australian tourist has died in a shark attack in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. The attack took place on Sunday afternoon just 150 meters from a crowded beach in the capital Noumea, according to local broadcaster 1ère Nouvelle Calédonie. The 59-year-old man was swimming near a swimming platform when the shark attacked and bit him several times.

Unsuccessful resuscitation attempts

The victim was brought ashore by two helpers on jet skis. However, his injuries, especially to his legs, were so severe that all attempts at resuscitation failed. By order of the mayor Sonia Lagarde, all the beaches around Nouméa have been closed. Attempts have been made to track the predatory fish from the air using drones. It was still not clear what species of shark it was.

The island paradise in the South Pacific is about 1,200 kilometers east of Australia. Shark attacks are quite rare in the archipelago.

57 shark attacks recorded in 2022

These attacks usually attract a lot of media attention. So it may not seem like it, but the number of unprovoked shark attacks around the world has gone down in the last year.

“Combined with 2020, it was the lowest number of incidents reported in the last 10 years,” the University of Florida at Gainesville recently said. As a result, there were a total of 57 recorded shark attacks in 2022 – since 2013, the number of documented attacks has averaged 74. Last year, five people died from shark bites. The previous year there were nine, in 2020 up to ten.

Stricter safety protocols on beaches

The researchers concluded that the numbers may reflect declining global shark populations. Gavin Naylor, director of the campus-based Florida Museum of Natural History, has a different explanation for the significantly lower death toll: “It is likely that deaths have declined because some areas have recently implemented strict safety protocols on beaches, particularly in Australia. “

32 “provoked” shark bites

The research team focused their statistics on the cartilaginous fish’s attacks, which apparently don’t have a direct motive. In 2022, however, there were also another 32 “provoked” shark bites – for example, because people were fishing near the incident or because the bait was swimming in the water. All numbers come from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) data collection held at the museum.

Compared to the fear of shark attacks among many people, the number of victims is extremely small. By comparison, according to the CDC, about 236,000 people die from drowning each year.

How to protect yourself from a shark attack

Sharks are predatory animals and humans are in the ocean in their natural habitat. They are not “man-eaters”, otherwise many water sports would be impossible to practice safely. However, if sharks are chased into areas where they forage for food, so-called “stress bites” can occur.

It’s also good to know why sharks sometimes get lost on bathing beaches: food. On the one hand, that means schools of fish, but garbage from ships, for example, can also attract sharks from afar. Therefore, they are often seen in front of marine transport or animal transport ships.

But what to do when a shark approaches? Sharks are considered primarily curious animals. The most important thing – as difficult as it may be in the worst case – is to remain calm. Squirming and wild movements can give the shark the impression that it has found injured prey.

The vast majority of shark bites are a kind of “test” to find out what the shark is dealing with. As a rule, he eats what he knows – and quickly dismisses humans.

swim naked

If you are in areas where there are relatively many sharks, monochromatic and light-colored swimwear is also recommended. Although experts assume that many shark species are colorblind, they should be able to see contrasts well even in murky water. By the way, it would be even better to swim naked in the sharks’ waters.

For safety, underwater lamps and cameras should also be avoided, because sharks are likely to react to electromagnetic vibrations. Surfboards and air mattresses are also discouraged.

However, it is considered unlikely that small amounts of human blood – such as menstrual blood or leaking through small wounds – would cause a shark attack.