Avoid swimming at night.

Reason: There is strong evidence to suggest that sharks move in closer to a land mass (island or shore) following sunset.

Do not stay far from shore.

Reason: You are farther from assistance, should you need it.

Do not swim, surf or dive alone.

Reason: Sharks may be more likely to approach solitary individuals, and should you get injured there is nobody to help you.

Do not swim with dogs or horses.

Reason: Their splashing may attract a predator.

Avoid high contrast swim suits.

Reason: It is thought sharks are attracted to high-contrast objects.

Be cautious when swimming in the breakers.

Reason: Sharks may become stressed due to the low visibility and sudden presence of humans.

If you suddenly become uneasy, leave the water slowly and with moderate motions.

Reason: Your instincts may be providing a warning of impending danger.

Remain aware of your surroundings and the behavior of marine life nearby.

Reason: Their actions may alert you to the presence of a shark.


If spearfishing or collecting shellfish, do not attach your catch to a stringer at your waist, and stay alert when removing a fish from your spear. If wade-fishing, do not carry bait on your person.

Reason: A shark attempting to snatch your catch or the bait, could inadvertently injure you.

If spearfishing, change your location frequently.

Reason: The vibrations of speared fish attract sharks.

Leave the water when pods of dolphin cluster or head inshore.

Reason: This behavior is often associated with the proximity of sharks.

Refrain from excess splashing or making quick, abrupt movements in the water.

Reason: It suggests an animal in distress.


Seek advice of local people before swimming, surfing or diving in areas where shark attacks have occurred.

Reason: Locals know the area.

Do not enter the water if sharks are present, and leave the water the water slowly and quietly if they are sighted or you are requested to do so by a lifeguard.

Reason: If sharks are in the immediate area, the risk of injury is increased.

Avoid murky or turbid water.

Reason: Some species of sharks (preferably) hunt in murky or turbid water, others may bite because of stress, and still others (but very rarely) bite an unfamiliar object to find out what it is. It is also difficult to defend yourself from something you cannot see.

Avoid swimming close to river mouths.

Reason: Freshwater plankton dies and attracts fish, some species of fish spawn at river mouths, and carcasses of dead animals are carried downstream. All these conditions attract predators such as sharks.

Don't swim close to sandbars.

Reason: Any natural structure attracts a variety of marine animals and may be a feeding area for sharks.

Be cautious crossing channels between sandbars or on the edge of steep drop offs.

Reason: These are often feeding areas for sharks, and there is often a higher current which requires stronger motions (= more sounds and visually more attractive)

Avoid swimming or surfing near jetties.

Reason: These are often feeding areas for sharks.

Avoid swimming in areas where birds are diving into the water.

Reason: Diving birds indicate schools of fish are in the area and the likelihood that sharks in the area is increased.

If schools of fish are milling nearby, do not attempt to chase them from the area.

Reason: Frightened, darting fish create distinctive sounds that are very attractive to sharks.

If fish are suddenly milling around you, leave the water.

Reason: Predator fish may try to hide because of the presence of sharks.

If baitfish are leaping at or above the surface, leave the water immediately.

Reason: Predator fish, possibly sharks, are feeding on the baitfish.

Avoid areas where any type of fishing activity is taking place or offal is dumped into the sea.

Reason: These areas attract sharks.

The presence of porpoises and dolphins does not mean there are no sharks hunting in the area.

Reason: These species often feed with sharks.

Avoid swimming, surfing or diving in the vicinity of pinniped haul-outs or rookeries.

Reason: These animals are the prey of large sharks, including white sharks.

Contact or Accident

Take both a CPR course and an advanced first aid course.

Reason: Many fatalities in the GSAF file could have been avoided if arterial bleeding had been recognized and stopped, and basic life support provided until professional medical assistance arrived. The life you save could be your own or that of a loved one.

If you feel that a shark is too close (2 bodylengths away), move towards the animal.

Reason: Shark don’t “understand” what a human being is and even when close very careful. An unfamiliar object that approaches them is potentially dangerous.

Stop swimming if a shark is close by, go into a vertical position, let your feet hang and scull with your arms to hold the position.

Reason: Sharks look for clues what a human being could be, any water relocation (by moving legs) could be interpreted as the propulsion of the object and would be bitten first - to immobilise the object.

If you see a shark close by, never turn away, even it means that you have to walk backward.

Reason: To know where a shark is at all times, makes it easier to be ready should it move closer.

If you are bitten by a shark and you are wearing a wetsuit, don't remove the wetsuit except to control arterial bleeding.

Reason: A wetsuit acts as a pressure bandage and restricts the loss of blood.

If a shark approaches uncomfortably close, keep it at bay with your speargun or a shark “billy.” Do not attempt to spear the shark.

Reason: The shark may simply be curious, but if you respond with aggression the shark may react in the same way, and its movements can attract others.

Do not corner a shark or cut off its path to open water.

Reason: It may feel threatened, stressed and react defensively.

Do not harass or touch any shark, even a small one.

Reason: Any shark is capable of inflicting injury.

Confrontation, Interception & Rescue Rules

Deal with the shark first before attending the victim.*

Reason: A shark’s curiosity about the victim might still be high, even if it did not bite the victim a second time. Any attempt to rescue the victim can trigger another response from the shark, and the rescuer’s initial task is to secure the situation.

* It is understood that a person might be drowning and immediate help is needed but most bites are less severe, and such is the exception to the rule. In these rather rare occasions, a rescuer must deal with a victim while remaining face-to-face with the shark.

If a shark is still swimming in close proximity to the victim during a rescue attempt, avoid anything that might trigger competition over the victim.

Reason: Even if the shark has decided that the victim is not suitable prey, there is a possibility that the sudden appearance of another person - together with the attempt to remove the victim - might trigger a “claim response.” A claim response could reflect an establishing of ownership based on initial appearance and exploration, so a rescue attempt should not commence until the situation with a shark is under control. In its worst form, a claim response ends up in a tug-of-war between the rescuer and the shark with the victim caught between the two.

Approach from behind a victim and then first evaluate the situation regarding the shark before attending to the victim.

Reason: A stressed victim can grab you and pull you down, aggravating the situation.

Move in front of the victim should a shark approach again.

Reason: The likelihood of a shark biting the victim a second time is statistically rather small (unless a claim response is triggered), but a rescuer must still be capable of fending off the approaching shark. The rescuer should position himself/herself in front of the victim (in relation to the shark’s position), and follow the interception and confrontation rules. Although moving a victim from the site can trigger a competitive or claim behavior in a shark, a situation will not escalate as long as the rescuer acts focused and immediately ceases moving the victim when the shark is turning towards the rescuer/victim again (see following rules as well).

Never move a victim when a shark is approaching.

Reason: Always assume that a shark is still interested in the victim, and the removing of the victim as the shark approaches could trigger a claim response. Move the victim only when the shark is swimming away from the rescuer and victim or moves at least a few body lengths away.

Confrontation Rule 1: Turn towards the shark...

Turn towards the shark, face it, and keep it in your eyesight. If you are in deeper water, change into a vertical position, let you legs loose (hang), and only use your arms to keep your general position to face the shark.

Confrontation Rule 2: Guide the shark...

Guide a shark around you should it come so close that you can reach the shark by stretching your arm without (!) leaning forward. Do not touch the shark in its snout area but rather on its top or side (behind the eyes). Do it gently and extend your arm slowly (never quickly).

Confrontatoon Rule 3: Push the shark off...

Push the shark off should it approach head on. If the pattern is repeated, try to touch the shark in its gill areas. Remember: a shark does not know what a person is but will likely recognize the signal (= only other aggressors “go for the gills”).

Confrontation Rule 4: Move towards the shark...

Move towards the shark should it be persistent and not show the desired effect of leaving you alone.

These four recommendations are also called “Face-Guide-Push-Move,” in chronology of the steps to be taken.

For further information on shark bites, investigation procedures and other shark related work, contact us or the Shark Research Institute SRI.