Does Paddle Boarding Attract Sharks and Can They Attack You?
Before you go into the ocean on your SUP board … you want to know: Do sharks attack paddle boarders?
Oceans and seas offer ideal conditions for paddle boarding. You can enjoy paddling in calm waters or catching gentle waves.
But no matter how good the ocean is, you must be cautious about sharks and other animals. Remember, you are invading their habitat, and they can fight back. Therefore, you shouldn’t be too comfortable when exploring the ocean.
Can sharks attack paddle boarders?
Yes! Sharks can attack paddleboarders, but it doesn’t happen often. These attacks can happen to surfers, paddleboarders, and kayakers.
While shark attacks on SUP users are rare, it doesn’t mean they can’t happen. You either avoid shark-infested waters or avoid provoking the animals.
According to recent statistics, there were 57 unprovoked shark bites and 32 provoked bites. Out of the 89 attacks, only five of them were fatal.
Surfing and board sports accounted for 32% of the total shark attacks. These stats show that shark attacks on paddleboarders are very rare. So, unless you are unlucky, you’ll never be a victim of shark attacks.
Why do sharks attack paddle boarders?
By now, you are probably wondering why a shark would single you out and launch an attack on you. Well, there are several reasons why sharks attack paddleboarders. Here are some of the reasons:
Sharks are just like other animals when it comes to curiosity. So, a foreign body in the water will definitely pique the predator’s interest. Therefore, it’s normal to have sharks lurking near your board.
Luckily, curiosity rarely culminates in attacks. The sharks will only circle your board and hang around for some time before leaving you alone.
Unfortunately, most people will become scared and make sudden movements once they see a shark nearby.
These movements may trigger the shark’s aggressive behavior. In addition, sudden movements can make you to fall into the water from the paddle board.
2. Your board is a threat
Sharks are not territorial animals, but they can attack when they feel threatened. Sometimes they will see your paddle board as a threat. And if that happens, the sharks will try to bite off your board.
The sharks attack your board to protect themselves. Do not take your solid or inflatable SUP board too close to the sharks.
3. They think you are food
Sometimes, sharks may think that your paddle board is food. In such cases, the shark will make your paddle board a potential target.
The attacks mostly happen if you have feet dangling overboard. Keep your balance on the paddle board without rocking it back and forth.
Overall, a hungry shark will think anything is food. Therefore, keep your distance. Best of all, do not stand up paddle board in an area infested with sharks.
Types of Shark Attacks
Shark attacks on paddle boarders are classified into two main categories. These categories include:
1. Provoked Attacks
These attacks happen when you prove a shark. You’ve probably sneaked up on a shark, touched it, or poked it with your sup paddle.
Such provocations will force the shark to retaliate by attacking your board. Therefore, provoked attacks happen when the shark attempt to defend itself.
2. Unprovoked Attacks
These attacks happen without the slightest provocation. Most unprovoked attacks can frighten you since you don’t expect them. Sometimes you don’t even know that a shark is swimming around you.
Unfortunately, unprovoked attacks are hard to prevent because the sharks always make the first move.
Here is a breakdown of how unproved shark attacks happen:
Hit & Run – A shark can attack your paddle board thinking it’s prey. The shark will bite the board and confirm it isn’t prey. In most cases, the shark will cease the attacks and swim away.
Bump & Bite – Sharks can bump onto your paddle board, throwing you off balance unexpectedly. Unfortunately, losing balance will cause you to fall into the water, giving the shark a chance to bite you.
Sneak Attack – Sneak attacks are pretty common when paddle boarding in the ocean. These attacks are quite startling because they happen randomly. In most cases, the shark will swim behind you, bump into your board, or attempt to bite it.
Tips to prevent shark attacks
Sharks shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying your hobby. You can still paddleboard in the river, ocean, and lake without worrying about shark attacks.
The trick is knowing how to avoid any form of shark interaction. The following tips might help you prevent shark attacks:
1.Don’t provoke sharks
Sharks are best left alone. You can’t antagonize them and expect them to treat you well. So, if a shark swims nearby, don’t attempt to paddle next to it or touch it. Allow the shark to do its thing without any disturbance.
2. Avoid feeding time
Sharks prefer to hunt at dusk and dawn. However, it is not uncommon for sharks to feed any time they run into prey.
You should avoid getting into the ocean when the sharks are actively looking for prey. The sharks might mistake your board for food and attack you.
3. Be aware of your surroundings
Knowing what’s around you when paddleboarding is crucial. Don’t just concentrate on paddling without checking what’s in the water. It’s easier to spot sharks if you are aware of your surroundings.
Once you spot sharks from a distance, you’ll avoid paddling towards them or stop making any movements that might cause the sharks to shift their attention towards you.
4. Avoid wearing bright colors
Bright colors make you conspicuous and might trigger a shark’s curiosity. The sharks will want to hang around your paddle board due to the high-contrast colors. Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict what the shark will do.
You should avoid wearing bright-colored clothes, as they are easy for sharks to spot. Always wear dull clothes, especially if you’re paddling in shark-infested waters. While at it, avoid wearing shiny jewelry, which can also attract sharks.
5. Don’t paddle board alone
Paddle boarding alone in the ocean or sea isn’t a good idea. You should have a friend or loved one tag along whenever you go to the ocean.
A friend will watch you closely and even warn you of lurking danger. Besides, a partner can help you get out of dangerous situations.
Also, remember to wear PFD for paddle boarding. The USCG says you have to wear one if you are paddle boarding outside the area designated for bathing, swimming, or surfing.
6. Control your movements
Sharks can hear low-frequency sounds made by sudden movements and splashing. When paddling, making a lot of noise may alert and attract sharks to your spot.
The sharks will think the sounds are coming from injured prey, and they will begin attacking your board.
So, avoid paddling vigorously when you spot sharks around. You can also stop paddling entirely until the sharks swim away.
Wrapping it up
Sharks are not very predictable, and they might behave in a certain way when hungry and differently when full.
By all means, avoid swimming or paddle boarding in areas infested with sharks. But in some cases, sharks will stray from their territory and come where they are least expected.
If this happens, stay calm, try to keep your distance and don’t paddle vigorously. You might do things that might feel aggressive to the shark and make it attack you.