When the discovery Channel rolls the end its annual Shark main programming, we’re once again reminded of our fascination v sharks, the apex predators who possess the terrible power that a table saw.

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Why the appeal? follow to shark expert and former Australian marine clearance diver Paul de Gelder, ruminating over sharks and their capacity to conquer us in the open waters is just human nature. “It’s are afraid of the unknown,” de Gelder tells psychological Floss. “It’s a are afraid of an pet you can’t watch coming eat you alive.”

De Gelder is unique qualified to comment on our preoccupation v sharks. In 2009, he was assaulted by a bull shark, which took component of his appropriate arm and part of his appropriate leg. Quite than hold a grudge, de Gelder has come to be a shark advocate. “I never blamed the shark,” the says. “The shark was simply doing what a shark does in the ocean.”

Attacks prefer the one de Gelder sustained are extremely rare. Follow to the global Shark Attack file maintained through the Florida Museum, simply 129 assaults were taped in 2020. The those, 57 to be unprovoked attacks—in other words, an event “where an attack on a live person occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no person provocation of the shark.” (In many cases, these attacks are an ext like test bites, through sharks making use of their mouth to discover the potential because that something being dinner.)

On the highly unlikely opportunity you come face-to-nose through a shark, de Gelder has actually some tips the may improve your possibilities of survival. 

1. Don’t panic approximately a shark.

If you in water and also find yourself suddenly in the company of a shark, instinct will certainly tell you come relocate immediately. Stand up to that urge. “When you view a predator, you want to get away as fast as possible,” de Gelder says. “But then you’re far much more likely to obtain bitten.” Panicking will put a shark in predatory mode. Remember: Just since a shark is around doesn’t mean you’re immediately on the menu. “When we do swims with sharks, nine out of 10 human being will say, ‘I didn’t feeling threatened. I didn’t feel choose the shark wanted to assault me. The was just curious.’ host on come that. The will save you calm.”

2. Try to preserve eye call with the shark.


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Paul de Gelder gets up close through a hammerhead throughout Shark week 2019.Courtesy of exploration Channel

Like dogs, sharks respect assertiveness. “The best thing to perform is face a shark,” de Gelder says. “Not with aggression. Continue to be calm. Save your eyes on it. Display them she a predator, as well.” If a shark approaches, you deserve to push castle away. Friend don’t want to begin a hit you’re most likely to lose, however you may avoid one by letting the shark understand you’re not docile.

3. If a shark attacks, fight back.

The unfortunate reality of a shark attack is the if one does decision you can be food, you don’t have much speak in the matter. Also a test bite, wherein the shark may provide you one inquisitive nibble, can reason grievous injury. And also if the a full-bore assault, you’re in every kinds the trouble. “"When the shark got me, i felt pressure,” de Gelder states of his very own attack. “But i didn’t feeling the teeth go in. Ns didn’t feel any kind of pain until it started shaking me and also ripping me apart.”

Still, law something is much better than nothing. De Gelder advises come “go wild,” punching and also attacking the shark however you can. The eyes, nose, and gills space all an excellent targets. “Anything that mirrors the shark you won’t take it it,” the says. “Maybe you’ll gain out.” having actually a weapon on hand is even better. You can use a knife and also aim for the gills or underside that the shark, but don’t shot stabbing the top. “You won’t be able to penetrate it,” the says.

4. If a shark has bitten her arm, keep it over your head.

If you’re fortunate sufficient to have a shark shed interest, swim as quick as you’re maybe to shore or safety. If you have actually an eight wound, make certain you keep it raised above your heart. “Keeping it over your heart will stem the bleeding,” de Gelder says. After losing his hand to the shark that struck him, de Gelder had the existence of mind to raise his arm, which may have added to his survival.

5. Every little thing you do, shot not to look in ~ the wound.

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Paul de Gelder shows up in Shark week 2019.Courtesy of exploration Channel.

Humans space no match for sharks, and the wounds the animals inflict can be devastating. One thing de Gelder was mindful not to carry out was look in ~ his severely damaged leg. “I thought that if ns didn’t look in ~ the wound, i wouldn’t get in shock,” that says. “It’s type of like as soon as a tiny kid cut his finger. The doesn’t start crying until he sees blood. I knew there to be something wrong v my leg yet I didn’t know what. Ns knew it can be horrific. Ns didn’t focus on it.”