Maneater: NSW has seen a spike in shark attacks in 2015. Photo: istock Men, perhaps, need to be less foolhardy when it comes to swimming with sharks Photo: Darren Pateman
There are exceptions to the rule. American professional surfer Bethany Hamilton had her left arm bitten off by a shark in 2003. Photo: Darren Pateman DJP
Are you a woman? Good news: you’re probably not going to get bitten by a shark.
In fact, nearly every single person ever bitten by a shark, in and around the world, since records begun, has been a man.
Go on ladies, dip your toes in the water. The odds are forever in your favour.
In there have been 1132 recorded shark attacks since 1941. Of those, 968 involved men and only 64 involved women (there were also 100 attacks without a victim’s gender recorded).
For every 100 shark attacks, a little over six will involve women, according to data from the global shark attack file. And the disparity holds up pretty much across the world.
That number has been on the increase over recent decades as more women take to the water. Between 1940 and 1959, only four women were involved in incidents compared with 139 men (2.8 per cent). But 29 of the 283 incidents between 1990 and 2015 involved women (10.2 per cent). But male incidents vastly overrate female incidents.
“It reflects a historic pattern of more males engaged in marine aquatic activities, especially those that put humans most at risk, for example surfing, diving, long distance swimming, kayaking, etcetera,” he told Fairfax Media.
“It in no way can be attributed to sharks ‘preferring’ males over females. In recent times proportionately more females are being attacked because more females are engaging themselves in riskier, formerly male dominated water activities.”
So you’re being attacked by a shark…
The International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History is responsible for this amazing graph, which shows the responses of people being attacked by sharks, and the effectiveness of those responses.
Striking a shark seems to be by far the most useful option, with a near-65-per-cent effectiveness rate. Don’t bother with poking, which is just as likely to make the shark more aggressive.
To minimise the risk of shark attack, the ASAF recommends:Swim at beaches patrolled by Surf Life Savers (they are there to keep an eye on your safety, to look for signs of danger and to assist if you get into trouble).Do not swim in dirty or turbid water (there is little chance of seeing a shark in these conditions).Avoid swimming at dusk, dawn or at night (many sharks are more active during these times and in low light conditions you may not be able to see an approaching shark).Avoid swimming well offshore, near deep channels or along drop-offs to deeper water (sharks are more likely to inhabit the deeper water).Avoid entering the ocean near a river mouth, especially after a rainstorm (rain can wash potential food items into the sea that might attract fish and sharks).If schooling fish congregate in large numbers, leave the water (sharks can be feeding on the baitfish schools).Do not swim near people fishing or spear fishing (as these activities can attract sharks).