How To Avoid A Shark Attack While Surfing

Surfing is a thrilling activity, but can be dangerous if you don’t know how to safely coexist with the ocean’s wildlife. Don’t let the fear of shark attacks stop you from enjoying the waves.

Learn the basics of shark identification, protective gear, and beach safety tips to help you reduce the risk of attack while surfing. With the right knowledge and safety protocols, you can surf with confidence and peace of mind.

Identifying Sharks

You can identify sharks by their size, shape, and color. Sharks can range in size from just a few inches to over 20 feet long. The most common type of shark is the gray reef shark, which is typically gray or brown in color. Other species may be black, white, or even have stripes or spots.

The shape of the shark will also be unique to the species, with some having a more slender body and others having a larger, bulky body. Knowing the characteristics of the shark can help you avoid an attack. Be sure to look for a shark’s dorsal fin, which is a sure sign of a shark’s presence. Additionally, pay attention to the ocean floor as some sharks may bury themselves in the sand.

If you spot any of these signs, it’s best to stay vigilant and get out of the water as soon as possible.

Safe Swimming Habits

Staying alert and aware of your surroundings is key to ensuring your safety and avoiding a potential shark attack while surfing. Make sure to keep a keen eye on the water, and never swim or surf alone. If you spot a shark, alert your companions and move away from the area with caution.

Avoid wearing bright colored clothing or jewelry, as this can attract sharks. Be aware of your movements, and don’t paddle erratically or splash too much. Stay close to shore, and if you’re in deeper waters, stay close to other surfers.

Don’t enter the water with an open wound or if you’re bleeding, as this will attract sharks. Lastly, obey all posted beach warnings and don’t swim in waters that have been deemed unsafe.

Following these simple steps will help protect you from unwanted encounters with sharks.

Protective Gear

Your best bet for protecting yourself from a shark attack while surfing is to wear protective gear. Wetsuits, for example, provide a layer of protection and can reduce the chances of a shark attack. Additionally, wearing brightly-colored wetsuits can help you to be more visible when you’re in the water.

Also, wearing a hood and booties can help to keep your extremities safe and reduce the risk of a shark attack. Furthermore, consider using a surfboard leash that attaches to your ankle, so if you do become separated from your board you’ll still be connected to it.

Lastly, if you choose to wear jewelry, opt for bright, reflective pieces that won’t blend in with the ocean’s environment and attract sharks. By taking the necessary safety precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of a shark attack while surfing.

Beach Safety Tips

To ensure your safety while surfing, there are a few key protocols to keep in mind. Familiarize yourself with beach-goers’ shark-safety protocols and surf in groups whenever possible. Avoid swimming near known shark-inhabited areas and stay aware of your surroundings.

When you spot a shark, it’s important to stay calm and act carefully. Paddle slowly away from the area, without splashing or making sudden movements that may attract the shark’s attention. It’s best to wear a full-body wetsuit or a shark-deterrent device if you plan to surf in an area where sharks are known to frequent.

Lastly, always pay attention to the advice of lifeguards and other beach personnel. They are there to help keep you safe and will provide valuable information about the current conditions.

Emergency Protocols

However, should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a shark encounter while surfing, it’s important to be prepared with a set of emergency protocols.

  • If a shark is sighted:

  • Remain calm and alert

  • Don’t panic

  • Make noise and splash to deter the shark

  • If attacked:

  • Try to fight back by hitting the shark in the eyes and gills

  • Swim quickly to shallow water

  • Seek medical attention immediately

  • If a shark is spotted in the vicinity:

  • Leave the water and seek help

  • Avoid the area until further notice

  • Alert other swimmers in the area

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Most Effective Ways to Prevent a Shark Attack?

To stay safe, follow these tips: Swim in groups, avoid murky waters, and don’t wear flashy jewelry. Be aware of your surroundings and never swim at night. Stay close to shore and if you see a shark, get out of the water quickly.

What Should I Do if I See a Shark While in the Water?

If you see a shark in the water, stay calm and slowly back away. Don’t make sudden movements or splash around. Avoid eye contact and try to swim away in a different direction. Don’t panic or swim towards shore, as this can trigger an attack.

How Likely Is It That I’ll Encounter a Shark While Surfing?

It’s rare, but possible, to encounter a shark while surfing. Your chances of coming across one are low, but it’s important to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.

Are There Any Natural Repellents for Sharks?

Yes, there are natural repellents for sharks. Some surfers use scents such as strong citrus or garlic to ward them away. You can also try using a decoy, like a seal-shaped buoy, to draw their attention away from you.

Are There Any Specific Areas to Avoid When Surfing in Shark-Prone Areas?

You should avoid surfing near areas with steep drop-offs, deep channels, and murky water. Sharks tend to congregate in these areas and are more likely to attack.


No one wants to experience a shark attack, and by following the steps outlined above, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

Familiarizing yourself with the signs of a shark, taking necessary safety precautions, having protective gear, and knowing what to do in an emergency can help you stay safe while surfing.

Don’t let fear of a shark attack keep you from enjoying the great sport of surfing!