A Florida man who was swimming near a fishing line 40 yards from the shore was recently bit by a shark near Santa Rosa Beach. 

According to a news release, the man had visible wounds to the upper body and chest area and was taken to a local hospital. Fortunately, he’s expected to recover. 

Firefighters believe the shark was heading for the fishing line and confused the man for bait. The shark is believed to be seven to eight feet long.

The fire district flew double red flags to warn other swimmers in the area of the shark’s presence.

This story brings to light the very real issue of swimming safely when sharks are lurking underwater. Wondering what to do if you spot a shark while swimming in the ocean? Here are some tips that could save your life.

  1. Stay calm. Most sharks are harmless, so just try to breathe. Also, if you start to flail around, you’ll appear more like prey.
  2. Get out of the water. If you’re near shore, swim calmly and smoothly to shore. Easier said than done, we know.
  3. Team up. If you’re near other swimmers and you can’t quickly escape the water, band together. A group of people is going to appear much more intimidating to a shark than a lone swimmer.
  4. Brace yourself for impact. If the shark is heading towards you aggressively, back up against anything you can (a rock, a buoy, another swimmer, a surfboard, etc.). This will minimize the angles from which the shark can strike you and make impact.
  5. Strike. Do NOT play dead if you’re trying to scare away a shark. Strike his eyes and gills. Scream underwater. Defend yourself, and thrash your arms and legs. Do everything in your power to escape.

And how can you avoid coming face to face with a shark?

  1. Don’t imitate shark food. If there are seals swimming near the beach, stay away from them…especially if you’re on a paddleboard, kayak, or surfboard (those things look like seals from below). Sharks also have a tendency to notice high contrast colors, such as bright yellow, orange, and green. Instead, opt for soft blues and black.
  2. Avoid confusing weather and situations. Confusing for the shark, that is. If it’s foggy, low light conditions (dusk or dawn), if there’s a lot of sewage in the water, or if anglers are crowding the area and pulling in a lot of fish, stay out of the water. These are all situations that could attract a hungry, disoriented shark.
  3. Don’t splash around. Sharks are curious creatures, and splashing will attract them. If you decide to swim in the ocean, practice long, smooth strokes. Stay calm, and be chill. Sharks are hypersensitive to electromagnetic signals, meaning they can sense fear or excitement by the pounding of your heart and have been known to react predatorily to that kind of stimuli. Crazy, right?!