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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. We recently purchased a Helson 22 and we plan on sailing around the coasts of Florida, The Keys and Bimini. We live in Florida and I am a native but I have recently become terrified at the thought of sharks in the open water. We have a 6 yr old and a 9 month old baby and I know we are going to jump off for a swim quite freqently. Has anyone ever experienced any problems with sharks and does anyone have any tips on how to keep us all safe while swimming in open water? Both my husband and I are avid scuba divers but it is a different ball game when you are on top of the water--especially with small children. I think a big problem with sharks are the dive tours that feed them (duh--how stupid can those people get, the sharks follow the sound of the boat motors to get food, just the same as alligators inland) Does anyone have any shark stories to tell? The only encounter I have had is with a 13-14 foot Tiger Shark that decided to take a nap under the shade of the boat and I did not see him until I had already jumped off of the boat--talk about scared!! He was scared and bolted for the deep so I was lucky. Anyways, any tips would be appreciated.
debbie
 

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Ahoy debbabcock, I took a lady friend of mine to the keys for a vacation and after three wonderfull days of swimming and snorkling and free diving for lobster in open water we took the john boat off to fish. After catching many edible fish I hooked into a 4'' shark which I landed and then on the second day a 4'' barracuda. My friend never went back in the water again!! I''ve taken my 8-10 yr old daughters in the same waters and swam with barracuda and sharks without problems. Like most things if you only think of the worst that can happen it''s time to return to dry land. With very small children I would never take them in open water without very carefull precautions. We have an, in the water pool (a 12'' diameter inflatable ring with a fine screen net attached to the underside) which keeps jellyfish away and provides a safe bottom to not lose younger ones. Although I am sure it would not stop a determined shark I do believe it would confuse and scare off a first attack or confuse thier sonar . I have no evidence to prove this but We feel better using it. Otherwise save the swimming for the areas of water where shark attack is less problematic. The odds of any shark attack are related to many factors including habitat and food supply, time of day (your incident the shark was more interested in resting than eating) and is more the normal reaction to human activities. Keep a watch out , be prudent about where and when, and there are worse things that could happen every day and none of us thinks too much about it. Big Red 56
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi just thought that I would throw my two sense in here.
While Florida is home to one of the most dangerous sharks in the world (the Bull Shark) 90% of all attacks occur in shallow water (i.e. within 100 yards of shore) "MOST" shark attacks on humans are thought to be cases of mistaken identity (little consolation to the sailor that gets hit by a curious shark) and occur in places where sharks might not be able to see clearly, as in the surf zone or shallow silty beaches.
Remember that you have a better chance of getting killed by bee stings or lightening than ending up a sharks afternoon snack.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hello:

Where do you get those floating screens from? Sounds like an excellent idea Big Red.

Thanks,
Marco (who in ST Louis has a much greater chance of getting hit by lightening than getting bit by a shark;-) ).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello there,

I live in Australia, there are more sharks here then people and we hardly ever hear of people being bitten, it does happen of course, but mostly to surfers ( that look like seals from under the water). I have never heard of a sailor being attacked by a shark when swimming. Worry more about the boom then sharks...

Bobby
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I wouldn''t worry too much about sharks if I were you. I used to work on a shark fishing boat off Florida. Most of the species tend to hang out fairly deep. And for the most part, they''re not really interested in eating people. I guess we taste funny! However, there are some precautions that it is reasonable to take. Don''t swim with schools of baitfish. Don''t swim if you''ve been fishing and have dumped fish guts over. Don''t swim if you''re leaking blood from a cut.

And keep in mind that decades of overfishing have really decimated the shark populations. There really aren''t too many left out there. More sailors are hurt by overused liquor lockers than by sharks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Just wanted to get on again and point something out. This weekend there were three reported attacks on humans in US coastal waters, two being fatal. In all three cases the victims were within 100 yards of shore in very shallow water. They probably would not have been hit in deeper water with better visibility.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My wife and I were about 2 miles off the Gulf Coast near Sarasota in a Sunfish Sailboat. It was light air and water visibility from the Sunfish was good. We were closely examined by a really large shark...in the 12-14 ft size range...probably a bull. As you know, a Sunfish only has about 8" of freeboard so we were really there with him. I pulled out the daggerboard and was prepared to bring it down on his nose if there was any aggressiveness. He kept a serpantine movement as he examined the Sunfish from stem to stern...spending a little quality time with me and the daggerboard and then was gone.

There is a lot of curiosity from sharks. The rule of thumb from experts at Mote Marine when I relayed the story was...if you can see headlights on the road, don''t be in the water. This is feeding time. Also don''t be in the water fishing with bait boxes.

Also I heard...don''t be splahing a lot when swimming as it can cause cunfusion down there.
 

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Hi. Hope evrything''s been going well for you.
Saw that you''ve recieved some tips in the shark issue. Please ignore the screen, misstaken identity etc. No screen will ever deterre any shark from doing anything, nor has there ever been any strong evidence that sharks has bitten humans as a result of misstaken identity. Two things will make a shark stay away though. Electric current and soap. Now, that''s not very practical, but if you don''t swim at night, late afternoons, when bleeding or close to inlets, you''ve got nothing to worry about. Sharks don''t eat people as we''re not fat enough (they would actually starve to death), and they don''t hunt for fun. Some sharks, like the Bull, is known for attacking humans, so if you see one, don''t go in the water. Tigers don''t attack often, and if you like to swim, the water''s probably to warm for a Great White.
No other speices have attacked humans without provocation to my knowledge.
If you''re attacked or approached by a shark, try very hard to stay calm. They are sensitive to heart rates and chemical reactions caused by stress.
Take care now, respect sharks, but don''t fear them, enjoy them.
Sorry about the spelling and the grammar, but I''m Swedish.
 

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Ahoy, valhalla never heard of the heart rate and fear nonsense but come on down I''ll troll you behind my boat and well test your theory. As far os the swimming net I just don''t recall where we got it and carefull reading of my note about its effectiveness is required.To the sunfish sailor you deserve an ATTA Boy and will be piped aboard my sailing vessel anytime. But you really need to keep in mind the vessel you were on does not make the experts list of suitable sailing craft. All the more reason I like you.!!Big Red 56
 

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Hi Big red!
Ther are several studies of shark-behaviorism published explaining the basic anathomy of sharks, their senses and how this interacts with our precense in the sea. I''d like to recommend Sharkattacs authored by Xavier.
As for your net, if it makes you feel safe, I guess it works:)
Where''s down?
 

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Hey Big Red:
I have a shark story for you and its no bull!
Back in the early 70''s I managed a project for Lockheed Ocean Systems in which we took a
barge,HMS 1 out to the Ismus at Catalina Island,sunk it to 120'' on a sandy bottom to test some parts to be usrd later in Project Jennifer.The barge was open at one end and we
left it down for 24 hours.A diving team with
myself included went down to check it out before we popped it to the surface.Boy! did we see something to blow your mind.The entire bottom of the barge all 190''x56'' was covered with sharks of every size and description all resting and fluttering their
tails to keep water flowing past their gills.
I was the only one allowed to have a camera on the project and I took a roll of color film in the Bolex that after it was enhanced
would scare the you know what out of you!!
 

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Ahoy gentlemen, first dancy8888 you my friend deserve at least the rank of deck hand in big reds pirate fleet. Thats what we pirates do when faced with adversity, we laugh and take pictures cause no one would believe us. However keep in mind associating with scurvy knaves can be addictive. For vahalla , down is SW Florida so babye its up or port or starboard form you. I''s don''t read to much whit me one good eye but I''s hears just good, keep bailing that boat even if you are on the bottom, shows determination. Truth be told I''d just as soon get eatt by a shark than hit by a drunk on the highway . Big Red 56 the Pirate of Pine Island
 

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Big Red!
Very true about the cars.
Heard someplace it''s 8000 times more likely to get killed by lightning then by sharks.
However, after spending three years in The Bahamas and eastern Fl, it doesn''t mean that much to me...
Anyone knows about any device that can emitt
negative particles for active lightning protection?
 

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Statistically most shark attacks occur in shallow water b/c MOST PEOPLE ARE IN SHALLOW WATER. And more people are struck by lightning b/c EVERYONE is exposed to thunderstorms. But does anyone really know how many attacks are reported per thousand hours spent frolicking in the deep sea…somehow I feel more “comfortable” being struck by a car than eaten by an animal.

PS- Good advice, but who the hell chooses to swim while actively bleeding? Darwin at work.
 

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sanuni,

I have to agree that I always try to read statistics with a wary eye. I, too, have always thought that the shallow vs. deep water statistic was misinterpreted since (as you say), the vast majority of people swimming in ocean waters are in shallow water.

I also know what you mean about the psychological difference between being smashed inside a steel shell (car), or chomped by an eating machine (shark). But worst of all is being run-through by a pirate''s cutlass, don''t you think ;)

Fair winds,
Duane
 

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Hi Sanuni
Statistics can not be trusted as you are right that being in the water increases the risk of being attacked of sharks.
However, statistics about being in shallow water for instance, is based on behaviorism of different spieces, for instance the great white that is warmblooded and are specialized in sea-mammals will be found near land and thus attacking people more often then the Blueshark, a deep water shark not known to attack people at all. Last year there were 34 sharkattacks in Florida, one leathal...
Statistically it''s alomost impossible to get killed by a shark. However no boat with six yellow suitcases stacked on the foredeck has ever sunk and statistically that''s very good. In real life, it doesn''t help that much:)
 

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I agree that the risk is small (except for the poor bastard who was eaten), but I do not buy into the shallow water bit. Why do people rob banks…that is where the money is. Why do sharks attack people in shallow water…that is where the people are.

Last year I saw a gory video of a marine biology student loose her leg while swimming with 6-7 others next to two boats some 20 miles off the coast (I believe it was Argentina). She may have survived and the actual attack took only one pass, about 2 seconds, but it was messy and she will never be the same.

This fall, while in Spain, the evening news was showing a “herd” of Great Whites feeding on the carcass of a dead whale (tour boats where bringing people in to see the sight and some idiot actually was videoed walking on the carcass while 10+ sharks thrashed about pulling chunks off the dead whale... it was a very big whale... apparently the man had no difficulty getting back on board and was unhurt. The news was questioning whether he should be arrested for his stupidity).

Last, people who actually fish for shark rarely do so in “shallow water.” How many Great Whites have been caught from the beach?

Again, it is unlikely, but I wouldn’t say it is nearly impossible.

PS- Thanks for the tip, but I am having trouble keeping the suitcases on deck :)
 

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Ahoy sanuni, I have some nice shark straps I use to keep my suitcases on deck with. Caught em in shallow water after I dove down and hit em on the head wit a wrench I stole in Tampa. Big Red 56 the Pirate of Pine Island.
 
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