California is home to a large number of great white sharks, and numerous attacks have been reported for decades. While most attacks have been authenticated, authorities believe bull and tiger sharks make some of the attacks great whites are blamed for. California has been keeping records of shark attacks since the late 1800s, and there have been many fatalities from various shark species. The great white, however, is the most feared and has a long list of attacks and deaths on its record. In January of 2015, several great white shark sightings have been reported, but no known attacks have taken place. The total number of attacks in the twenty-first century is 83 and is three times as many as occurred in the twentieth century.
Great White Attacks 2014
California authenticated six great white shark attacks in 2014. October saw the most active month with four people being attacked, while June and November each recorded one attack. Of the six people attacked, three were surfers, two were kayaking, and the third was on an outrigger. Two of the surfers sustained injuries. The risk of being bitten or killed by a great white or any shark is very small. Shark attacks make sensational headlines when they happen, but you are 30 times more likely to be killed by a pit bull and six times more likely to be killed by a cow.
Victim Survives Attack
Not all shark attacks are fatal. In December of 2014, a juvenile great white shark bit a California male surfer on the hip and dragged him underwater. The quick-thinking man was able to paddle back to shore, take the leash cord from his surfboard, and make a tourniquet for his leg before he left the water. It happened two doctors were at the beach and among those witnessing the attack. The doctors took care of the man while waiting for 911 to arrive. Witnesses who were surfing near the victim all confirmed the attack was unprovoked.
Great White Shark Attacks Surfer
In October of 2014, near Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a surfer was attacked and bitten in the knee by a 12-foot long great white shark. The man was rescued, taken to the hospital, and treated. Witnesses said the attack was unprovoked.
Long-Distance Swimmer Survives Great White Shark Attack
In July of 2014, a great white shark attacked a swimmer in Manhattan Beach, California. The man was swimming with a training group in an area where a fisherman had hooked the shark and was trying to reel it in. Because the fish was already stressed as the man swam by, it bit him. The swimmers did not see the shark in time to avoid it. The man was bitten in the torso and carried to shore by the other swimmers. He was transported to the hospital for treatment.
Things That Might Make A Great White Shark Attack You
Thousands of surfers, kayakers, and swimmers fill the beaches and ocean on the California coast without being attacked by a shark or even seeing one, but there are some things that can attract a shark to you.
- Never swim alone. A shark is more attracted to a lone swimmer. Swim with a group of people, and take turns as lookouts. If you spot what you think is a shark, inform the others swimmers to head to shore and don’t return to the water until you determine if the threat was real.
- Seabirds and dolphins feed on the same food as sharks. If you see groups of dolphins and large flocks of seabirds, stay out of the water. While the presence of these creatures does not necessarily mean sharks are nearby, the probability is high.
- Sharks have an amazing ability to detect miniscule amounts of blood from miles away. If you have an open wound or seeping injury, avoid swimming or surfing in areas sharks are known to frequent. Debate is ongoing as to whether or not menstrual blood attracts sharks, but it’s hard to believe it would be the only type that didn’t. It’s always wiser to be safe than to be a failed experiment.
- A dog splashing around in the water tells a shark that food is in the area. The shark’s keen sense of smell will detect the animal for a great distance. Swimmers splashing around in the ocean will also attract sharks. If you and friends are playing games in the water, stick very close to shore so you can get on the beach quickly if a shark is spotted.
- Sharks are known to frequent areas where there are steep drop-offs or sandbars. Swimmers and surfers should be extremely watchful when engaging in recreation near sandbars. This is another example of when it’s important to post a lookout.
- Stay away from areas that are being fished. Fishing bait and blood attract sharks to an area. Remember the story (earlier in this article) of the swimmer who strayed into the path of the shark caught by a fisherman. Before you go in the water, look around and see what activities are underway. If you see something going on that might attract sharks, suggest your group move to another area.
Even though the chances of being attacked by a great white shark are very slim, common sense dictates avoiding activities that are known to arouse the curiosity of the large fish.
Shark Attack History
Between 1670 and 2012, the United States reported 1,085 shark attacks (by all species). In 342 years they were recorded, only 44 shark attacks resulted in a fatality. There were many serious injuries, but the victims lived to tell a remarkable “one that got away” story. The shark is an amazing and beautiful fish, and the great white has been both glorified and demonized in motion pictures. It’s important to know the difference between fact and fiction. The shark can be dangerous if you are in its path, but it is not out hunting for you.