What to Do if You See a Shark While Snorkeling?

No one expects to see a shark while snorkeling, but it unfortunately happens from time to time. If you do encounter a shark while out snorkeling, there are some things that you need to do to stay safe.

If you see a shark while snorkeling, head to the nearest safe ground. Swim in a group and don’t wander too far, also swim quickly but rhythmically to avoid being seen as prey. Bleeding and urine attracts sharks, and avoid wearing shiny jewelry. Night, dawn, or dusk time is not advised for snorkeling if you want to avoid sharks.

Keep reading for the top tips on what to do if you see a shark while snorkeling.

Is It Common To See Sharks While Snorkeling?

It is not common to see sharks while snorkeling, but it does happen from time to time. Sharks are more likely to be found in open water than in areas near the shore, but there is no guarantee that you will not see a shark in either location.

Sharks are part of marine life and should be respected, but they should not be feared.

Most sharks attack humans as a mistake, but there are a few types of sharks that are more likely to attack humans.


Dangerous Shark Types

There are a few types of sharks that are considered to be dangerous for humans. The three most common types of dangerous sharks are:

  • the great white shark,
  • the tiger shark,
  • and the bull shark.

On average, around 16 shark attacks happen annually in the US, with 1 fatality every two years. The most shark attacks have been recorded in California, Florida, Hawaii, Texas, and the Carolinas.

How Do You Avoid Shark Attacks When Snorkeling?

The best way to avoid a shark attack when snorkeling is to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. If you see a shark, do not panic and try to swim away.

The following are some tips on how to avoid a shark attack while snorkeling.

Pay Attention to Shark Signs on the Beach

If you are at the beach and see signs that say “Sharks Present,” it means that there is a possibility of sharks in the water. It is best to avoid swimming in the water if these signs are up, since those are closed waters.

Avoid Fishing Boats when Snorkeling

Fishing boats and areas where fishermen are casting can be a dangerous place to be if you are snorkeling. Many times, sharks will be attracted to the bait that is being used by the fishermen. If you see a fishing boat in the area, try to stay away from it.

Be Careful Meeting Dolphins and Seals

Dolphins and seals are often mistaken for sharks by people who are not familiar with these marine animals. If you see a dolphin or seal while snorkeling, be careful not to get too close. Also, dolphins and seals many times have the same prey as sharks, so they often share space.

Avoid Wearing High Contrasting Colors

Sharks are able to see contrast very well, so it is recommend that you avoid wearing high contrasting colors if you are snorkeling in an area where sharks may be present. Stick to neutrals or earth tones to help reduce the chance of being mistaken for prey.

Yellow and white are especially attractive to sharks since they are high contrasting colors.

Choose the Time of Snorkeling Well

It is best to avoid night, dawn or dusk time when snorkeling as sharks are more active during these times. Try to snorkel during the daytime when there is more light and it is less probable to meet sharks. The preferential timing is late morning and the afternoon when sharks are less active.

Avoid the Surface and Steep Declines

If you can avoid it, try to stay away from the surface of the water and areas where there is a steep decline. These are two places where sharks are more likely to be found.

How to Protect Yourself from Sharks?

If you see a shark while snorkeling, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself. The following steps will help you to stay safe.

Don’t Go Snorkeling If You Are Bleeding

If you are bleeding, it is best to avoid going snorkeling. Sharks are attracted to blood and you will be more likely to encounter a shark if you are bleeding.

Avoid Urinating in the Water

Urine is also an attractant for sharks, so avoid urinating in the water if you can. Sharks have a very good sense of smell and they will be able to smell your urine from a distance.

Avoid Wearing Jewellery or Shiny Items

Sharks are drawn to shiny items, so avoid wearing jewellery or other items that will reflect light. It is likely that they mistake these items for food, like scales of small fish.

Stay in Groups

If you can, try to stay in groups when snorkeling. Sharks are less likely to attack a large group of people than an individual. Keep contact with your fellow snorkelers and make sure to keep an eye on them.


Maintain Your Rhythm when Swimming

If you see a shark, try to stay calm and maintain rhythm when swimming. Sharks are more likely to attack if you are panicking. When you swim a constant pace, it is less likely that the shark will see you as a weak prey. Don’t flail around or splash a lot.

Go to the Nearest Safety Area

Find a place where you can take shelter and do not leave that spot until the shark has gone. Try to stay where there is a lot of people and noise. Sharks are less likely to attack in these areas.

Defend Yourself

If the shark does attack, try to defend yourself by hitting it in the nose or eyes. Do not try to play dead, as this may encourage the shark to continue attacking. Sharks tend to circle their prey before attacking, so try to keep an eye on the shark and make yourself as big as possible.

Attack Soft Spots on the Shark

If you are able to, try to attack the soft spots on the shark’s body. This includes the gills and the shark’s eyes, but the nose is also a very sensitive area. Sharks are less likely to attack if they feel that they are in danger.

Final Thoughts

While it is exciting to see a shark while snorkeling, be sure to stay safe and enjoy the experience.

If you encounter a shark while snorkeling, remember these tips: keep your eyes on the shark, avoid sudden movements or splashing, and back away slowly if possible.

Sharks are an important part of our oceans’ ecosystems, but we should always exercise caution when meeting one underwater.

They are not always aggressive and will usually swim away if they see people are not afraid. With these tips in mind, you can safely enjoy the experience of snorkeling with sharks.

Have you ever seen a shark while snorkeling?

Recent Content