An accomplished, well travelled writer and reviewer, Michele resides in Brisbane. Witty and highly articulate, her rivetting reviews show life through the eyes of a highly Gifted Adult viewing a world where she has an IQ in the top 1% of that world.
That hot summer may have passed and now you are wearing your autumn collection and disinclined to swim, but there are still people taking to the ocean. There are aquatic recreational sports that are ongoing. The risk of shark attack is lowered by some water sports such as yachting, jet skiing, canoeing and fishing with a mate in a tinny. However, I know of at least one case where they were suddenly joined in their tinny by an agile, thrashing Mako shark. If this occurs, sit or kneel on your legs.
Put your fishing basket over its head to provide protection from its snapping mouth. Grabbing it by anywhere below the covered head and working swiftly as a team, try to heave it back into the water. The Mako is the most gymnastic of sharks, if you can't get a grip on it, get out of the tinny and into the water. Flip the boat upside down and quickly get on the hull. Await rescue.
The tropical waters of Australia are frequented throughout the year and being a cold blooded species, sharks head for warm waters. It's unfair but can't be helped so you need knowledge. I don't know why, but sharks see contrast clearly. Choose a wet suit or swim wear that is not high contrast. No zebra patterns or red and yellow hibiscus flowers. It probably doesn't matter if your bikini is barely there. The shark will just be admiring your body.
Do not wear shiny jewellery when in the water because to a shark they appear as fish scales and where there's scales, there's fish. It's better to go without your necklace than your head. Dark wet suits are advised. However, having lived in a coastal town and snorkelled daily, I find this a bit controversial. We wore coloured wet suits because we didn't want to look like seals, even though there were none around. We also refrained from urinating in our suits so that we didn't smell like seals.
Never enter the water at dawn, dusk or dark as the sharks are feeding close to shore. Every surfer leaves the water at dusk but, taking enormous risks like prostitutes, most surfers are in the water at dawn. Their love of a wave is greater than their fear of sharks. Also, as there is often dolphins in the water, riding the waves, it is wrongly assumed that when there are dolphins there are no sharks.
The myth is that sharks are scared of dolphins because they bump them around. I have seen many shark documentaries but I have never seen footage of them being bumped by dolphins. Also, I don't believe a shark is scared of anything. It's at the top of the food chain and comfortable.
Never enter the water if you see a fin or there has been a shark sighting. Swim with others between the flags. Shark spotting is one of the life guards job criteria. If the shark alarm sounds, exit the water quickly and calmly.
Sharks can detect nerves, so don't be nervous. Sharks have an incredible, undeserved ability to detect and head for a drop of blood a great distance away. So, if you cut yourself on coral or get hit in the head by a surf board fin, get out of the water calmly. If you are snorkelling or diving with a dive buddy and they cut themself, abandon them. It's embarrassing to mention, but do not enter the water if you are menstruating. It's all about the blood.
Amongst the most dangerous of occupations is pearl and abalone diving. They tend to be alone and vulnerable. Keep looking through the jobs section for something else. More deadly than base jumping, one of the world's most extreme or stupid sports is spear fishing.
If you're down there, moving along with a net bag of dead, bleeding fish over your shoulder and another freshly bleeding shiny fish on your spear and you look delicious in your wet suit, then you are beyond advising. You chose to be shark bait.
Never swim with dogs because they splash erratically which attracts sharks. Get far away from someone in the water with a dog. Never enter the water close to a floating carcass or a dead body. That's the aquatic equivalent of road kill. If you see a lot of sea bird activity, particularly diving and emerging with fish in their bills, get away. That's a large school of fish and sharks will want to be part of it.
Where I lived, no one was seen taken by a shark but people vanished like Harold Holt did. Swimmers didn't emerge, lonely surf boards floated in. One of the greatest shark escapes happened to my brother, a life guard. It made the news. Just like you are not supposed to, he was surfing alone. A six foot two, tanned, buff, massive shouldered, super swimmer is not immune.
A sudden helicopter roared toward him and hovered above him. A hastily written but very clear sign was held out the door just for him. It read, 'Shark Pack Approaching!' My brother looked over his shoulder and in the approaching distance saw a mountain range of fins. The helicopter stayed between him and the pack but it churned up the water making body boarding difficult. Still, he says he made a world record exit and gave a wave to the chopper crew as they flew off.
Sharks are said to have a brain the size of a golf ball. But they have all that sonar sensory stuff going for them. Personally, I don't believe something that looks that cunning and is compared to a lawyer is stupid. No offence to lawyers. I've been to Law School and been hated. I moved on to something else and my fin fell off through disuse. I am not a shark anymore.