How To Avoid Sharks When Swimming in Cape Waters

The odds of ever getting attacked by a shark are astronomically low, something like 1 in 3,750,000 depending on whose statistics you believe. That’s right, according to easily obtained Google statistics, you are more likely to get struck by lightning (1 in 3,000), killed by a dog (1 in 112,000), injured by a toilet (a concerning 1 in 10,000), or even die from an asteroid or comet (1 in 250,000). In fact, if you’re in the water you should realistically be much more concerned about your odds of accidentally drowning (1 in 1,134). You’re more likely to be killed by a water-borne brain amoeba, or an ornery fish, or a sharp piece of coral, or a tsunami, or a real-life pirate. 

There are roughly 70 to 100 shark attacks worldwide every year, of those fewer than 20 result in death.  That said, we are on Cape Cod and there are sharks here and it is technically a statistical possibility that you could become shark food (you won’t) so, here are five things that you can do to improve your chances of not being mauled by a shark (chances, which I should once again mention, that are pretty astronomical to begin with). In 2018, a death by shark attack in Wellfleet was the first in 80 years. 

Avoid the Seals

The reason that we have so many sharks in the Cape’s waters is because we have loads and loads of seals. The sharks, you see, like to eat the seals. Rule number one in not being attacked by a shark would be to not hang out with the shark food. To a shark, you don’t look a whole lot different from a seal, You would have to forgive a shark for accidentally biting you if you chose to swim amongs the very things that we all know sharks like to eat. Also, for what it’s worth, sharks eating seals is a natural thing that we ought to be comfortable with. It’s a pretty raw deal for the seal, but good for the food chain and population control. Don’t be a seal.
Bonus Tip: It is against the law in Massachusetts to disturb a seal (as if you needed another reason to avoid the shark magnets). Also, seals are more likely to bite you than a shark is…ironic.

Swim Close to Shore

This just makes good practical sense. Who are you trying to impress? It’s not just sharks either, the further out to sea you get the more dangerous the world is. There are a number of reasons to stick close to shore but principal among them is the fact that sharks don’t life close to shore. Even in the event you did run into a shark, if you’re close to the beach then you don’t have far to go to escape. You’re also less likely to drown, less likely to encounter rip tides, or develop hypothermia.

Don’t Taunt a Shark

Not nice, not safe. Give a shark some space, they may not naturally be inclined toward eating you, but you can only push something so far before it snaps, mauls you, and you are left with nobody to blame but yourself.

Avoid Murky Water

This one is a bit obvious as well. Opaque water not only makes it more difficult for you to see approaching danger, it also makes it harder for the shark to figure out whether or not you’re food. Some species of sharks hunt in murky or turbid water, others may bite because of stress. Not to mention that murky water poses a whole list of additional safety concerns which are significantly more likely to affect you than a skirmish with a shark.

Avoid Swimming Early or Late in the Day or Alone

Sharks tend to eat in low light and in cool temperatures. So be careful in the morning or late in the evening. It’s still unlikely that you’ll be on the menu, but why tempt fate? On that subject, you are always safer if there is someone with you. You would have more success fighting of a hungry or ill-tempered shark and you would have someone to get help if things go bad. Bonus Tip: Don’t wear shiny jewelry when in the water, sharks can mistake them for fish scales.

By Staff
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