Shark Attacks in Hawaii
Are shark attacks increasing? A recent study theorizes that rising ocean temperatures lure many more swimmers into the ocean, which has increased the risk of attack. Meanwhile, the coral reefs where the sharks normally feed are suffering from the rising temperatures.
But wait! A report by the International Shark Attack File, a database of shark attacks maintained by the Florida Museum of Natural History, states that shark attacks are not getting worse. Six people died of shark attacks in 2015, whereas eleven died in 2000.
However, it is always smart to take precautions. Apparently, sharks like colorful clothing, in particular yellow and orange bathing suits. The sparkle of jewelry attracts them, too. So forget about making a fashion statement if you’re planning on a swim.
Stay away from murky water, and avoid going into the ocean at dawn, dusk, or at night, when large sharks come closer to land to feed. Avoid swimming, snorkeling, or surfing around the mouths of rivers or streams.
And then there’s blood. It’s probably better to err on the side of caution and avoid swimming in the ocean if you are bleeding. With paired nostrils on the underside of their snouts, sharks can sense one drop of blood in a million drops of water (about the size of a home swimming pool), and may be able to detect blood from a quarter mile away.
Sharks possess clusters of pores that contain specialized organs called ampullae of Lorenzini, which allow them to detect electromagnetic fields and temperature gradients. All animals (including people) generate electrical fields as their hearts beat and muscles contract, and some varieties of sharks can sense as little as one nanovolt per square centimeter—a sensitivity that is about 5 million times greater than humans feel.
Swim in groups and avoid splashing. If you are approached by a shark, stay still—except for the advice to strike the shark’s snout, eyes, or gills. Hmm…that’s pretty hard to do without splashing. On the bright side, though, there were about ten confirmed shark bites in 2015 and only six died from their injuries.
But watch out—a hundred died from falling coconuts!