January 16, 2009 / 8:13 AM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX: How to avoid, or survive, a shark attack

(Reuters) - Three shark attacks in Australia in two days this week sparked a global media frenzy of “Jaws” proportions, but sharks are more at risk in the ocean than humans with man killing millions of sharks each year.

Following are points on how to avoid, or at least survive, a shark attack:

* Don’t swim in a known shark feeding area, such as the estuary of a river or creek or a nearby beach, which is where the three Australian shark attacks this week occurred.

* Don’t swim at dawn or dusk, when sharks normally feed. Don’t swim amongst schools of fish, particularly swarming bait fish which are a favorite of sharks, or a colony of seals.

* If you do find yourself in the water with a shark, its best to get out as quickly, but as quietly as you can. Don’t panic. Panicking and thrashing the water will just make the shark think you are a school of fish — yummy.

* If exiting the water is not an option, then crowd together or at least try and make yourself look big. You may intimidate the shark and it might back off. Remember this is the food chain, so size and aggression often win.

Okay, none of this worked and the shark bites!

* Don’t give up, FIGHT!!! Two of the Australians bitten this week survived because they or their rescuer punched the shark in the head. Sharks are sensitive around the eyes, gills and nose and divers who routinely swim with sharks use small batons to prod off sharks if they get too close.

Even if you find yourself inside the shark, keep on fighting! An Australian abalone diver was swallowed up to his chest by a Great White in 2007, but kept punching and poking the shark in the eye until it let him go.

He survived because he was wearing a lead vest which prevented the shark’s bite penetrating his chest and because his punching forced the shark to release its bite.

Editing by Megan Goldin

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