If anyone knows about safety in the ocean, it’s someone like two-time World Surfing Champion like Tom Carroll – who’s probably spent more time in the saltwater than the rest of us put together.
So when Carroll gives advice for staying safe from sharks, it’s a great idea to listen. His biggest tip is to swim with a friend – and, “Stay out of the water at night, dawn and dusk – it’s known that these are the times when sharks will be searching for food.”
If you’re heading to the beach this weekend, keep Carroll’s 10 tips in mind:
- Stay out of the water at night, dawn, or dusk – Sharks are most active at these times can track down prey even in low visibility.
- Don’t wear high-contrast clothing or light reflecting jewellery – Sharks see contrast very well and light reflecting objects can look like fish scales.
- Swim, surf or dive with a buddy – Sharks most often attack lone individuals.
- Avoid murky waters, harbour entrances, channels, and steep drop-offs – Sharks often swim around these areas.
- Swim in patrolled beaches – Surf lifesavers are there to help protect you and will alert beach-goers if there is a shark sighting.
- Avoid excessive splashing – Unpredictable movements can attract sharks. If you are spearfishing and carrying fish when you see a shark, release your catch and carefully leave the area.
- Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding – Sharks have an excellent sense of smell and taste and can trace blood to its source.
- Avoid areas where animal, human, or fish waste enters the water – Sewage attracts baitfish, and these attract sharks.
- If you see fish or turtles acting frantically, leave the water – They may have detected a shark nearby.
- Add a shark safety app to your phone – eg the ‘Dorsal’ app allows beachgoers and authorities to immediately alert others to local shark sighting or attacks, while the ‘Shark Smart’ app from the NSW Government is full of info about shark species, locations and risk levels.
Surf champion Tom Carroll (above) is an advocate for ‘Ocean Guardian’ shark deterrents and recommends them for surfers, divers and boaters. The small devices use an electrical field to repel sharks if they come near, by causing spasms in their short-range electrical receptors. Developed over two decades of research, the devices don’t harm sharks but simply turn them away.