What to Do If You’re Attacked By a Shark, According to a Navy SEAL

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While the chances of something happening is much less likely than a dog attack, you just never know, especially if you’re out surfing, swimming, or diving in open waters. We hope you never have to use these tips, but here’s what you should know.

Probably the most important thing you can do, obviously, is to avoid putting yourself in this dire position in the first place. River mouths and waters with fishing boats nearby are likely places for shark attacks to occur. And rethink being in the water during the early morning and late at night, when visibility is low.

If you do find yourself in a Jaws scenario, trained survival expert and a former member of SEAL Team Six, Clint Emerson, explains in this Business Insider video that sharks tend to attack from the bottom up, meaning that it’ll swim beneath you before launching itself upward. In the water, however, you have little chance of moving quickly enough to damage the shark with punches or kicks. In fact, you thrashing about in a wild panic could actually further draw the shark’s interest.

Richard Peirce, a shark expert and former chairman of Shark Trust, says in an interview with CNN that you should always remain eye contact, which discourages the shark’s natural tendency to want to ambush you. If possible, try to keep your back against something (a coral reef or boat) to prevent the shark from getting behind you.

When it comes to defending yourself, Emerson says to shove your thumbs into the shark’s eyes or jam your fingers in the vents of the gills and attempt to rip them apart. If you have anything with you, perhaps a waterproof selfie stick, use it as a weapon. Most of us aren’t trained badasses, however, so in such a stressful situation it’s probably all you can do to remain calm and try to slowly swim back to shore.

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