Millions of people come to play in the Pacific Ocean. They swim, snorkel, scuba, and surf. Occasionally, there are stories about shark attacks. So what is the truth?
There are 300 species of sharks, but only 28 species have been known to attack humans. The most dangerous are white, tiger, hammerhead, and blue. These are most comfortable in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean and rarely cause problems for humans. In fact, there are only 50 shark attacks a year worldwide. What causes them to do so? They normally follow waste from ships and boats…or if their food is no longer available, they may come closer to shore to look for food. So what do you do?
If you are snorkeling and see a shark, don’t panic. Keep your face (mask and snorkel) below the water line. Sharks do not see well, so if you move calmly or not at all, you may not attract the shark’s attention. Also, keep your palms and feet pointed away from the shark. Sharks confuse the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet for fish. Sharks are also attracted to shiny objects and bright colors, especially yellow and red; so be cautious of your nail and swim wear colors and leave your jewelry at home.
If a shark does notice you, he may just be curious. So, look him straight in the eye and slowly back off. When you can, slowly get out of the water and go somewhere else to swim and snorkel. White beaches (coral beaches) are normally safer than dark beaches (volcanic beaches). Sharks are territorial, so he may be just warning you to get out of his backyard and go play somewhere else. This is excellent advice.
Cite: Stanley, D., South Pacific Handbook.