Shark bites

Approximately 400 species of sharks have been documented to attack humans. The great white shark has caused the highest number of shark bites than any other species. On the other hand, bull sharks and tiger sharks are also dangerous. Generally, any shark greater than 6 feet in length is considered dangerous. Sharks normally eat fish, other sharks, sea mammals, sea turtles, squid and other invertebrates and sea birds. Shark attacks can be categorized into three types:

  • “Bump-and-bite” attack – the shark bumps into the victim before returning to bite again
  • “Hit-and-run” attack – the most common type of attack where the shark delivers one bite and does not return anymore.
  • “Sneak attack” – the shark simply attacks devoid of notice and followed by more attacks.

The “bump-and-bite” and “sneak” attack are less common but source of the most of the harsh shark bite wounds and deaths.

Symptoms of shark bites

In most cases, many do not even know that a shark is close by prior an attack. In some cases, an individual can sustain only a bump from the shark which is likely to occur when the shark is only investigating what is going on at the surface of the water. Due to the denticles or tooth-like structures on the skin of the shark, it is abrasive resulting to a significant abrasion.

The jaws of sharks are comprised of several rows of sharp, serrated and triangular teeth that are constantly replaced as they shed. The classic shark bites have the crescent-shape. The common wound pattern is a series of parallel cuts caused by the raking movement of the shark on the individual. Always remember that shark bites can cause massive tissue loss. Majority of bites can result to cuts or punctures that are not deep or do not cause nerve or blood vessel injury.

When to seek medical care

It is important to consult a doctor for severe wounds. The doctor will evaluate the wound for significant damage such as injury to the nerves, blood vessels and internal organs.

Treatment for shark bites

shark bites

Direct pressure must be applied to control the bleeding.

For severe shark bites, do not hesitate to call for emergency assistance right away. If there is visible bleeding, the emphasis of first aid is to control the bleeding by applying direct pressure. Always calm and reassure the individual that help is on the way. Do not forget to provide warmth since the individual can be chilled from the water and is likely to suffer from hypothermia.

Always remember that victims of shark bites must be assessed by a health care professional. If only a minor wound is inflicted, you have to wash the wound using soap and water. Cover it with a clean dressing and seek medical care. As for severe or significant injuries, it is best to call for emergency assistance right away.


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