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Sharks have lived among on this earth for over 300 million years. Since the fascination with the movie Jaws starring Richard Dreyfuss in 1975, many people are leery of beaches thinking they may be infringing upon shark infested waters. The truth of the matter is that there are less than a hundred reported shark attacks each year with just a handful of people dying from it. Shark bites are just not very common.

Of the many species of shark, (roughly 400 or so) less than 35 species are known for attacking humans. The sharks in question are usually over six feet in length and the most dangerous species are the great white shark and the tiger shark. Most sharks even the largest ones, normally eat sea creatures, plankton, sea lions, sea birds, sea turtles, other mammals, fish, and invertebrates but not humans.

The shark is an incredible predator, with well developed sense of sight and smell. They also have an organ common to certain species of fish that is sensitive to electrical currents in and around the water. These organs are called ampullae of Lorenzini and they no doubt will be able to pick up on the motion of a human swimming or bobbing in the water.

There are three styles of shark bites

The most common style occurs when the shark will take one big bite but leaves the victim alone after that. Shark experts believe that the attacking shark has mistaken the human for its normal food supply.

Another form of attack is when the shark bumps the swimmer then returns for more shark bites.

Shark bites can also occur without warning, with the shark sneaking up on the victim and then returning later on for more shark bites.

"Bump and bite" and sneak attacks are the most severe and fatal forms of attacks for humans.

A bump from a shark can result in scratches. The shark skin has the texture of sandpaper containing tooth like structures called denticles. The mighty jaws of a shark contain several rows of serrated teeth which shed and are replaced constantly. Shark bites are either a series of parallel scrapings (cuts) against the skin or a single crescent shaped bite. It goes without saying that a bite from a shark can cause massive tissue damage, or total severance of a limb. It can also be relatively mild in comparison with very little bleeding or nerve damage depending on the species involved. There may be broken bones, and fragments of shark teeth left in the wounds.

Prevention

* Do not swim in shark infested waters; they like the point where the water goes from shallow to a deep plunge.

* Do not go swimming while menstruating, sharks are attracted by blood

* Do not wear shiny jewelry or bright and shiny clothing to attract their attention

* Splashing all about may get their attention and they may consider you their natural food source.

* Do not swim alone, or a dusk, dawn and nighttime. Sharks generally do not attack a group of swimmers.

* Do not fish or spear fish in shark infested waters




First Aid Care for Shark Bites

* Keep the victim calm

* Apply direct pressure on the wound if there is any bleeding

* Wash minor cuts with soap and water

* Bandage the cuts

* Make sure the victim is warm after coming out of the water

* Transport the victim to the nearest hospital or medical center

At the hospital center the doctors may do any of these things:

* Clean wounds

* Apply pressure to stop bleeding

* Prescribe antibiotics

* Administer IV’s

* Take Xrays

* Perform Surgery (if necessary to remove dead tissue)

* Suture wounds

* Administer a tetanus shot (if the victim has not had one in the previous five years

After initial visit to the doctor

Continue to inspect the wound and notify your doctor immediately if infection sets in or worsens (seepage of reddish brown fluid, blisters around the cut, pain, red streaks around the cut, swelling and fever)