There was this story around Mick Fanning this year. He was attacked by a shark in a surfing tournament.

In 2015, Fanning survived an encounter with what is suspected to be a great white shark during the J-Bay Open finals in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

It's unlikely to happen but theoretical you may find yourself in such a situation not only while surfing. This made me wonder how one should react to such?

Mick reacted like this (according to the Wikipedia article):

Fanning punched the shark and tried to wedge his board between the shark and his body.[8] The shark eventually bit off Fanning's leash and Fanning started his attempt to flee back to shore.[8]

1 Answer 1


Common advise is to punch the shark in the nose and/or eyes with your closed fist or a weapon (surf board). These are sensitive areas, and a shark that has mistaken you for a seal, or is just investigating, will usually be frightened away.

Reading reviews of people who have been attacked (and survived), almost all people do exactly this - although I think is instinctual rather than learned behavior. I have serious doubts that anyone being attacked by a shark stops to think "What was it I read on the internet..." before reacting.

Once (if) the shark backs off, you have to consider what the next thing to do it. Swimming for it at full speed won't really help - you will never our run a shark, In Fanning's case, he had swam to the jet ski and was able to get up out of the water, then taken out of the area, very quickly. Fanning was probably on the beach before the shark had time to think about round two :)

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    True about the shark being much faster swimming, but the sooner you get to shore the less time the shark has to think about whether to try again. It is not futile to swim to shore, anything else would be to just give up.
    – Escoce
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 18:56

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