If you have ever seen a movie about diving or any water-based activity, the biggest threat will always be the impending visit of a deadly shark. Movies have painted this idea that no matter where you are, even if you’re in a puddle, a shark is lurking and watching your every move. Realistically this isn’t the case. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to be killed by a shark, and last year only two people died because of a shark attack. To put this into perspective, more people got killed by a vending machine last year.
Though the chances of being killed by a shark are low, they are never zero. Due to this fact, it is important to know how to deal with a shark attack and how to avoid being attacked at all. One of the main things that divers or aquatic workers swear by is wearing the right colors to make sure the shark doesn’t attack you, but what are the right colors to wear to avoid being attacked by sharks?
The nature of sharks
In recent years, scientists have actually come to the conclusion that sharks are colorblind. Like most fish, they don’t often see any color and so they have evolved past the point of needing to see color. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can wear any color you want and still go unnoticed, as sharks are still very curious creatures.
Something that sharks can notice regardless of their color blindness is contrast. Because of this, it is recommended that you avoid wearing bright colors that contrast against the dark blue of the water. It isn’t that sharks are more attracted to these colors, it’s because they have an inquisitive nature. This means that if they see something that stands out in the water, they will want to go and investigate. However, due to not having hands and fingers, the only way that sharks know how to investigate is with their teeth.
What is unfortunate is that the colors that we choose to wear in order to be noticed in times of peril are also very noticeable to sharks. Bright yellows and oranges contrast most with the murky sea waters and so are likely to be noticed by any sharks that are nearby. However, the chance of actually being attacked by a shark is extremely low in comparison to the chance of being lost at sea or drowning, so for more inexperienced divers, it is often recommended that you prioritize being seen by potential rescuers than being avoided by sharks.
What else attracts sharks?
When trying to work out what else attracts sharks, you should generally keep one rule in mind. If it contrasts the water you’re in, it’ll probably attract a shark.
Patterns are something that can be very alluring to sharks. Patterns create a stark contrast in comparison to the generally bland ocean background and can really grab the attention of sharks. Again this creates an issue of sorts as patterns are often used on scuba suits so that any lost person can be noticed in the water. However, scientists also suggest that seeing patterns on suits may also mean that sharks will avoid you as that will confirm that you aren’t a viable snack.
As well as color, sharks are very sensitive to any sort of reflections in the water. This can be a problem, as often a lot of buoyancy control system components have reflective elements due to the materials that they are made of. They are necessary to your diving experience and so when you are purchasing your buoyancy control systems, be sure to pick a matte option or just one that doesn’t reflect in the water.
Though it may seem small, accessories such as jewelry or watches can also create reflections that draw the attention of sharks. If possible, make sure that you take any jewelry off before diving. If you are someone that uses a compression watch, be sure to tuck it under your scuba suit and only look at it when you need to check your stats. This will prevent any light from catching it and drawing in an unwanted visit.
A lot of people also forget that the plastic/glass in goggles also reflects light. If you aren’t going too deep, it may be worth not using goggles at all for your own safety. This may seem impossible for people who don’t know how to open their eyes in saltwater, but opening your eyes in salt water is actually a very valuable skill to have and will be useful when trying to avoid sharks.
Another color set that you should avoid is whites and silvers. This is not only because they contrast the water, but because they also resemble the color of sea lions and other foods that sharks love. If you are going out of your way to not look like a sea lion to prevent being eaten, you should also make sure that you’re not acting one.
Make sure that your movements in the water are limited and deliberate. If you are flailing around like a fish and making a lot of movement in the water then you are bound to alert any nearby sharks to your location. Fish and other sea life creatures that sharks like to eat often make erratic movements due to their lack of thought, this is perfect for sharks that are sensitive to water movement. Sharks also don’t really take the time to think about what they are eating, they instead see movement that resembles the movement of their food and act quickly, as they often have to deal with their food escape. This means they won’t stop to double-check if they are in fact seeing a human, which could lead to injury.
How to avoid Sharks
One of the smartest things you can do when trying to avoid sharks is avoiding large groups of fish. A general rule is that when there is a large source of food, there is bound to be a predator close by. For your own safety, when you see large groups of fish or even birds, you should turn the other way and admire them from a distance. Having general low visibility will always be in your favor with sharks, so standing out among a large group of fish is never really a good idea.
Is it safe to dive with sharks?
With all of these warnings and precautions, you may be wondering if it’s even safe to dive with sharks. The truth is that it is usually completely safe to dive with sharks, but you should always do so with a diving expert. Most species of sharks don’t eat until they really need to and won’t go near humans at all, for their own safety. As long as you take precautions and respect the water that you are swimming in by not acting silly or causing a commotion, you are bound to be absolutely fine.
If you are truly afraid you can always dive with a shark shield. Shark shields disrupt the electromagnetic field in the water and causes sharks distress, which means they won’t stick around in the area.