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Monday, May 27, 2013
Dealing With Apex Predators Of The Deep
Both Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jr. and Farallon Islands relay swimmer Cathy Delneo have encountered sharks while in the ocean.
They each weighed in about their personal recommendations on how best to deal with the apex predators of the deep.
"I find sharks to be similar to dogs in that they sense and respond to fear, panic and anxiety in undesirable ways," says Hall who trained in the open water 60-65% of the time between his medal-winning performances at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
"Heightened excitement begets aggressive excitement. There is no out-swimming a shark.
Like if you encounter a bear or mountain lion; remain calm, make yourself appear as big as possible, keep eye contact and make slowly, gracefully, powerfully, and proficiently - demonstrating you are aquatically adept, not an injured creature - and calmly to safety. Praying is optional for sharks over 8 feet."
Cathy Delneo, who was bitten by a tiger shark off the North Carolina shore in America, further expands. "I think that just as there are different swimmers with different personalities and different ways they might respond to an animal in the water, each shark has an individual personality and specific objectives at different moments in time. Because of the differences in sharks, there's probably not one best way that a swimmer can respond to every shark situation.
That said, what Gary is saying seems true.
Sharks seem likely to respond to the anxiety a swimmer is expressing just as dogs do. The best reaction in general seems to be to keep an eye on the shark and move away from it as smoothly and steadily as possible. But if it actually attacks, then be ready to defend yourself.
I plan on trying the tickle the gills approach if I'm ever in that situation - hopefully I never will be again, though!"
Bottom photo shows Richard Clifford in shark alley in the Cayman Islands who experienced several shark encounters and one frightening shark attack (read here) as he was paddling for Penny Palfrey during her 68-mile channel crossing in the Cayman Islands. Courtesy of Image by Spike.
Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
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The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
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