The sad fact of life is that if you’re not the predator, you’re the prey.
This is especially true when you enter the ocean, where your status as apex predator plummets. Don’t want to be shark food? Do what all animals do: adapt so that you blend in.
Shark Mitigation Systems has been helping surfers do just that with a wetsuit dyed in a disruptive pattern that mimics the variations in color of the water so that sharks don’t see you. In tests, it takes a shark 90 seconds to interact with black neoprene wetsuit because that color and shape is akin to seal. With their wetsuit, it takes 5-6 minutes for the shark to interact — plenty of time to get away.
Now they’re partnering with Rusty, a classic surfboard company, to paint the bottom of their boards in this very pattern so that sharks don’t see you from below.
Experts say that when a shark attacks a human, it’s purely accidental: they’re confusing us for a seal or a tuna. Sharks don’t hunt humans, and when they bite, they generally don’t stick around to finish the job. Though the probability is incredibly slim (more injuries occur on the toilet), the possibility is nonetheless terrifying. Not even the most avid surfer wants to be nibbled.
Shark attacks are, unfortunately, on the rise. Part of this is because there are more people in the water. But also, people have overfished the oceans, depleting sharks of their preferred meal.
As Bill Burr once said, if you go to the restaurant wanting a steak and they don’t have it, you simply order something else. Same goes for a shark. No tuna? I’ll have the human. So if you really want to ensure fewer shark attacks, perhaps it’d be wise to save some fish for the sharks.
But that's probably not going to happen, so here’s some practical advice for avoiding a shark attack all together.
- Swim in groups
- Don’t swim at dawn or dusk because that their feeding time
- Don’t wear shiny jewelry because it looks like a fish
- Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding
- Stay clear of sandbars and steep drop offs
- Don’t swim near the mouth of a river or stream
- Don’t swim in polluted waters (should be self-evident)
- And do get one a SMS wetsuit
Surf on, sir. And be safe out there.