Stay alert constantly
From the moment you arrive at the beach until the moment you leave the water, never stop studying your surroundings. Are there signs of shark sightings? Is there a headless seal corpse on the beach? Are the birds hitting a bait ball offshore? There are many signs to look for.
Surfing in rough waters means turning on your animal instincts and being very aware of what is going on around you. The world witnessed the attack on Mick Fanning during the J-Bay Open in South Africa. This is how it is sometimes though; sharks rely on the element of surprise when they hunt prey, often emerging from the depths when they strike. Stay alert and always be ready to respond.
Don’t surf around seals
This one we think is obvious, but some people still don’t get it. Put simply a surfer paddling around on a surfboard look a hell of a lot like a big fat seal floating around on the surface of the ocean. The thing is seals can see underwater and are usually pretty good at getting away from sharks. Human on the other hand with their head above the water looking for the next “awesome barrel” is a very easy target. So, don’t be the one fat seal floating in the ocean that does not try and get away when all the others are safe on a rock away from the shark about to have a bite.
Surf where there are people
As surfers we always seek to avoid crowds, but when it comes to areas with large shark populations, the herd mentality is not such a bad idea. A lone surfer can easily be mistaken for a sick or injured seal, which would normally be top quality material for shark meals. In general, sharks will not attack a large and condensed group of surfers, as it is too threatening for them.
remove your jewelry
This is related to smaller sharks as you might find in Florida, avoid wearing rings or jewellery that can flash underwater and get confused with fish. Sharks such as whites and tigers are looking for larger prey, but small, aggressive sharks that feed on schools of fish will not hesitate to take a bite in hopes of getting a quick meal.
Stay away from dead marine life
This type of information is evident, if there is a dead whale floating in the lineup, it is likely that there are sharks on the lap. Dead whales, seals, sea lions and even sewage are more than enough to feed a shark’s appetite. Remember that a hungry shark is always a dangerous shark.
Don’t hit the water
Splashing water is like ringing the dinner bell for sharks. Do not do it. They realize the sounds and vibrations in the water and can confuse it with a fish or a mammal in distress. Always stay as calm as possible. Sharks can detect your body language and if they see you as a threat they will leave you alone. If they see you as a lame seal, you are in trouble.
These days, there is an increasing number of shark deterrence devices on the market. Everything from shark eyes that are no bigger than eyeball slugs that you can place on the bottom of your board (serving as a visual impairment, such as marks on the wings of a butterfly), to devices such as the Shark shield. Which creates an electric pulse to scare away sharks. There are more and more of these products coming out all the time and there is more and more testing on what does and doesn’t work. Keep an eye out on our site for the latest news on what share repellent devices work and what ones don’t.
Just get out of the water
This is the simplest one of course, If you see a shark near you, get out of the water immediately. Give your space and return to surfing later. Most likely, if you see them it is because you are safe, since they love a surprise attack and do not give notice that they will hit. That being said; if you do see one this small prevention may keep you surfing in the future.