Shark Species

What to Do if a Shark Approaches You While Surfing?

what to do if a shark approaches you while surfing

For surfers, sharks have been a major problem for a long time. But thanks to advanced research and information, new ways to deal with sharks are being found. Electronic devices, tagging sharks, and other ideas have replaced the old methods of using nets to capture sharks and reduce shark populations. There is an example of Newport Beach, it has installed a system of Buoys that can detect sharks. Now, at this place, the chances of shark attacks at being killed are very low.

In this guide, we will explore the following outline in detail:

What Type of Sharks Attacks Surfers?

Most of the sharks do not pose any threat to humans. However, the following three sharks do attack humans:

Great White Shark1700 lbs11 to 13 feetUSA, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia 
Tiger Shark700 lbs11 to 15 feetGulf of Mexico, Indonesia, and Australia
Bull Shark500 lbs11 feetTropical waters of Australia, and the Gulf of Mexico

What to Do if a Shark Approaches You While Surfing?

The chances of being attacked by a shark are very rare and only 4 or 5 people die each year from shark attacks. Here are some key points that might help what you can do to avoid a shark attack when you go into waters where sharks are present:

1: Stay Calm and Relax

While surfing, if the shark is near you, it is really important to stay calm in this situation; stressing and panicking can make things worse. Take a deep breath and analyze the situation calmly.

2: Avoid Quick Movements Around the Shark

It is best to avoid sudden, fast, and quick movements in water when you realize that the shark is nearby. Smooth movements are much safer than fast and sudden ones. We don’t want to make sharks think that we are the prey so it’s better to avoid irregular movements.

3: Back Away Slowly

If you are feeling uneasy due to the closeness of the shark, the good idea is to back away in slow motion. Keep a keen eye on the shark and try to reach the shore or join a group of other surfers. This makes the situation safer as it creates more space between you and the shark.

4: Create a Barrier With the Surfboard

Use your surfboard as a shield if the shark is coming closer to you. Hold the surfboard in between you and the shark; to keep yourself safe and secure in the water it is a smart move.

5: Seek Help From Fellow Surfers

Signal your group if you are surfing with other surfers to let them know about the presence of sharks nearby in the water. The situation is less risky if all the surfers stick together as a group. Strength in numbers is good planning while dealing with a shark encounter.

6: Be Ready to Protect Yourself From Shark Attack

It is smart to get ready just in case of a shark attack though it is uncommon. Use whatever you have to protect yourself from attacks like a surfboard or any other equipment as you feel the shark is approaching you aggressively. It’s better to be prepared for the attack before the time in the water.

7: Surf in Pack

The surfers should stick together and travel in groups to places where there are lots of sharks present, though surfers prefer to stay away from crowds it’s safer to stick together. For sharks, a lone surfer is like a vulnerable seal which is a tasty meal for them. The sharks won’t bother the large groups as it might seem risky for them to attack them. Sharks like to take advantage of easy opportunities.

8: Feeding Time to Avoid

Sharks like to eat more and are active during sunrise and sunset, which is the perfect time, and the condition of the water is perfect for surfing. Unless you are in a place known for having many sharks, morning and evening surf sessions are awesome. The Middle of the day is a much more suitable time to surf in such areas when the water is a bit choppier with some onshore texture.

9: Deep Channels Should be Avoided

Tunnels on the island of Kauai and Surf Beach in California are known for a lot of sharks. This is because of the deep channels between the beach and the outer surf breaks. It can be frightening going across these channels because what might be in the water you don’t know. As sharks like deep water, you should avoid surfing in deep channels and beaches.

10: River Mouth Should be Avoided

Surfing near the river mouth can be dangerous because of 2 main reasons; the first reason is that there is a lot of sea life near the river mouth/river. The second reason is that the water there is often not very clear, making it difficult to see. You don’t want to become the dinner for hungry sharks that are unable to see well due to unclear water.  

11: Get Out of the Water

It is best the approach to leave the water when you spot a shark nearby. Surf later but first gives them their space. Sharks prefer surprise attacks, so if you see a shark, you are likely safe. But it is better to leave water when you feel the presence of sharks because it is better to take safety measures.

12: Report the Shark Sightings and Incidents to Authorities

If you see a shark while you are surfing, it is important to inform the local authorities or beach patrols about the sighting of a shark incident. Reporting these occurrences will help to enhance public safety measures. Even though it is rare to have shark encounters, it is better to stay informed and calm as this plays a significant role in keeping you safe in such situations.


If you are planning to visit an ocean, you must keep in mind that you could encounter sharks, no matter when and where you are going. Although sharks avoid people and humans are not on their menu, you can still encounter sharks in some places such as the deep channels or murky waters. The Tiger Shark, Great White Shark, and Bull Shark have the most known cases of attacking people. If the shark approaches you while surfing, then stay calm and relax, avoid panicking and quick movements; if you are feeling uneasy then slowly start moving backward from the shark and get out of the water.

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