How To Survive A Shark Attack: Ways To Stay Alive

Our website is supported by our users. We sometimes earn affiliate links when you click through the affiliate links on our website

Contact us for Questions
image showing a man swimming in an ocean and shark fins behind him - to show how to survive a shark attack header

If you spend a lot of time in the ocean and worry about sharks, knowing how to survive a shark attack can be the difference between life and death in this scary situation.

Keep reading to learn about shark attack statistics, how to fight off a shark, and tips for preventing a shark attack, so you never have to face this apex predator.

Is It Possible To Survive a Shark Attack?

It’s possible to survive a shark attack.

Most shark attacks aren’t fatal, and people often survive shark encounters.

For example, of the 73 unprovoked shark attacks recorded in 2021, 11 were fatal.

Of the 43 unprovoked shark attacks recorded in 2022, only one was fatal, and in 2018, only four of the around 66 attacks were fatal.

As you can see, surviving a shark attack is certainly possible.

What Are the Odds of Surviving a Shark Attack?

The odds of surviving a shark attack are decent, experts estimate you have about a 75% chance that you will survive an unprovoked shark attack.

However, this number can change depending on the location, shark trends, the type of shark, and other variables.

In the end, you’re more likely to drown or die taking a selfie than pass away from a shark attack, despite what many people think.

Common Questions About Shark Attacks

Thanks to the media’s dramatic reporting of shark attacks and shark activity, many people fear shark attacks despite the statistics.

Even though the likelihood of you getting attacked by a shark is low, it’s always good to be prepared!

How Can You Tell if a Shark is Near?

The number one way to tell if sharks are present is if you see their top fins poking out of the water or see their shadowy figure moving around.

However, sharks don’t always swim near the surface, they often lurk beneath.

And if you swim in murky water, you can’t spot sharks moving around.

One of the best ways to tell if a shark is near without seeing the fin is to monitor the behavior of other animals.

If fish and birds suddenly begin behaving differently, like fleeing the area or making a lot of noise.

These actions typically signal the presence of a large predator.

If you see fish jumping out of the water, it’s best to exit the water slowly and stay alert.

Will a Shark Attack You if It Sees You?

It’s not guaranteed that a shark will attack if it sees you.

While they’re considered hunting machines, they don’t have a natural interest in humans.

But if they can’t identify a human, they may come closer or take an inquisitive bite.

But there are instances where sharks see humans and opt to swim in the other direction to avoid an interaction.

Most attacks occur because the shark mistakes the person for food or feels threatened due to injury or sickness.

Do Sharks Attack if You Stay Still?

A shark may attack you if you stay still.

But you should limit sudden and dramatic movements, as this provokes the shark to attack.

Staying still and calm is recommended for someone facing down a shark.

Where Are Shark Attacks Most Common?

Shark attacks are most common in places with shark-infested waters, which you probably guessed.

These spots include South Africa, Australia, Hawaii, California, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Australia and Florida are the most dangerous places in terms of shark attacks.

What Do You Do If a Shark Attacks You?

If you have a fear of a shark attack, it can relieve some of your anxiety to have a game plan if you ever find yourself in this terrifying situation.

You have three options when facing a shark: defend, fight, or escape.

Ideally, you do all three, depending on what the situation calls for and how the shark behaves.

image showing a man about to learn how to survive a shark attack

How Do You Fight Off a Shark?

It may seem impossible, but if you’re an adult, you may be able to fight off the shark.

Display strength and aggression if you fight the shark, as they need to view you as a credible threat.

Sharks have tough skin, so you can’t hit them just anywhere.

Aim for the following places on the shark:

  • Gills
  • Eyes
  • Nose/snout

Hitting their sides or stomach will likely do nothing to frighten them off.

Do You Punch a Shark in the Nose or Eye?

Both! But when aiming for the eyes, it’s best to poke and gouge to cause the most distress.

But punching a shark in the nose can also scare them off.

Ideally, you want to combine eye-gouging with nose-punching if a shark attacks you.

How Do You Get a Shark to Let Go Of You?

Once again, go for the gills, eyes, and snout in this situation.

You can also grab hold of the shark while you attack its sensitive areas to protect yourself.

When sharks bite, they thrash, and restricting this movement gives them less control over the situation.

What Are Sharks Afraid Of?

Sharks often steer clear of whale sharks, which can attack them in some instances, and pods of dolphins, which have also been known to overpower a single shark.

In general, sharks also avoid larger animals, like orcas and whales.

However, sharks are most afraid of humans, especially in groups.

A shark-human interaction is typically an accident on the shark’s part, as they will typically avoid fishing boats, nets, and humans.

Tips for Preventing Shark Attacks

No one wants to be in a situation where they must fight a shark.

So below are some tips for preventing a shark attack whenever you go to the ocean.

Keep these in mind to keep yourself safe, and above all, stay alert!

  • Don’t splash or move a lot in the ocean
  • Don’t stay in one spot for too long
  • Don’t enter the water if you know sharks are present
  • Don’t enter the water if you suspect there are sharks
  • Enter and leave the water slowly and calmly
  • Don’t swim in low light or at night
  • Use the buddy system
  • Avoid areas with seals and sea lions
  • Monitor the behavior of nearby animals like birds and fish        

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions for more information on shark attacks and prevention strategies.

header graphic for do sharks attack humans post

Does your period attract sharks?

No! This notion is a silly but common myth.

While sharks can detect blood in the water, there’s no evidence that period blood attracts them.

You’d also have to bleed excessively in the water to get the shark’s attention, as they don’t go into a feeding frenzy when they sense blood the way many people think they do.

Will a shark drown if pulled backward?

Yes, a shark can drown if pulled back because it can’t breathe.

When they move backward, water enters the gills.

As a result, the shark will suffocate.

Wrapping Up

Surviving a shark attack is possible, despite what many people think.

If you spend time in the ocean, even in areas where shark attacks are uncommon, it’s best to prepare.

So keep these tips and tactics in mind if you ever find yourself swimming with a shark.

If you notice a shark in the area, leave the water immediately.

If you’re attacked by the shark, defend yourself by grabbing onto the animal and hitting the shark’s eyes, gills, and snout.

Leave us a comment or question about how to survive a shark attack!

Comments (0)

Browse our Resources

Find the highest quality content, reviews, and recommendations - from the front lines of the diving community.

  • Gear & More

    Scuba Gear

    Gear

    When you’re looking to make an investment into diving, you need the right gear. We provide recommendations and reviews for our favorite scuba gear.

  • Diving Spots

    Travel Areas

    Dive Spots

    There are many places to dive, but many are a diver’s best-kept secret. We pull back the curtain and show you the best places to dive to maximize your travel time.

  • Information

    The Basics

    Information

    Learn what it takes to start scuba diving and getting into the sport. We cover the basics and essentials that you should know before getting certified.

  • Certifications

    Training Options

    Certifications

    Whether you’re looking to get into scuba diving, or are already trained, there are plenty of options available to start or advance your diving education.