Paddle boarding took the world by storm in recent years and it’s now one of the most popular water sports around the world. It’s a great way for fun and relaxation. But it’s not always fun and glamorous out there.
There’s been report of sharks attaching paddle boarders while they paddle in the ocean which tells us you can never be too safe on the water.
So it’s important to know what to do if you encounter a shark while paddle boarding in the ocean.
Why do sharks go after paddle boarders?
While it’s important to learn how to keep yourself safe while you encounter a shark, keep in mind that shark attacks are very rare, and usually the result of the shark mistaking the paddle board or the paddler for a seal or other shark food.
Sharks have their own diet, and humans are not preferred prey for sharks. If they attack human, there must be a reason for it and it’s usually not to eat us. They usually attack because of the following reasons:
1. They mistake the paddle board for food
Some paddle boards might resemble a seal or turtle from below, which make them a potential target.
2. They are rattled by the board
You may find this hard to believe but sharks have fears, too. The food chain dictates that a bigger create caats a smaller one, that creature eats something even smaller, and so on and so forth. So sharks could mistake a paddle board larger than themselves as a predator that’s coming to eat them and they can get scared.
3. Your SUP board has intrigued them
Sometimes, sharks might come up to you out of curiosity. This goes for boaters, swimmers, SUP riders, and anyone out deep enough into the ocean. You might be swimming, paddling, splashing and even talking to someone else, and the shark doesn’t know what to make of you. So they might come close to check you out.
What to do if you see a shark while paddle boarding in the ocean?
As is mentioned earlier, shark attacks are actually very rare, but you can never be too careful. If you actually see a shark while paddle boarding, there are a few things you can do to make it out safely.
It’s natural to fear sharks. If you don’t, you should. But you can’t let fear take over when you see a shark, the right thing to do is to stay as calm as possible. If a shark senses your fear, it might become more aggressive. You need to avoid anything that might agitate the shark or make it feel threatened.
Don't Splash Around
If a shark is around, you should avoid attracting its attention. And splashing around is one of the worst thing you can do as it will draw the shark’s attention. Sharks tend to be attacted to fast-moving objects and sudden movements in the water so you need to keep your motions controlled.
Dont Linger and Try to Get to Land
If you do find a shark nearby, you need to get out of there ASAP and get to land. But as mentioned earilier, you need to do it smartly and in a way that won’t attract the shark’s attention.
If you are close to shore, paddle calmly and quickly towards land. Always remain calm even if you are further out, and keep an eye on the shark so that you can be aware of its movements.
Don’t linger because you want to take a cool picture or video for social media. It’s not worth risking your life. And it goes without saying that you should not try to touch the shark when it’s close to you. If you put your hand out, you are basically asking the shark to attack you.
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Is it safe to paddle board in the ocean?
Paddle boarding in the ocean is very safe most of the time as long as you take the necessary precautions. Here are some of the precations to take to safely paddle in the ocean.
●Choose the right place and time to paddle
It’s important you choose the right place and right time to paddle if you want to paddle in the ocean.
It’s easy to research if an area is prone to shark activity so be sure to do your research before actually going somewhere to paddle.
Don’t paddle after dark. Sometimes you can’t even see a shark in broad daylight if the water is murky. And sharks are more active at dawn and dusk. You’d be exposing yourself to greater risk of being attacked by a shark if you paddle at night.
●Don’t get out on the water by yourself
It’s always safer to have someone accompany you when you paddle. If you can’t find someone to accompany you, at least tell someone where you will be going and when they can expect you to return.
●Be aware of your surroundings
When you are out on the water, always pay attention to the surrounding environment. If you see anything that can potentially pose a threat to your safety, you should get out of the water ASAP.
●Don't wear any jewelry
Shiny objects like jewelry could attract sharks and make them mistake you for fish.
●Limit your contrast
Contrasting colors can make you stand out on the water and attract sharks. Wear darker clothing to avoid attracting their attention.
Don’t let all those shark movies scare you, shark attacks are actually extremely rare. Remember that we are the intruders of their environment, and not the other way around.