28 December 2010, 17:51

Meeting a shark: be prepared!

Meeting a shark: be prepared!
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A meeting with a shark should not necessarily end in death, the personnel of the Sochi oceanarium are convinced. They have set up special training courses to teach residents and guests of the 2014 Winter Olympics capital how to behave when encountering a shark. Our correspondent Yelena Kovachich reports.

A meeting with a shark should not necessarily end in death, the personnel of the Sochi oceanarium are convinced. They have set up special training courses to teach residents and guests of the 2014 Winter Olympics capital how to behave when encountering a shark. Our correspondent Yelena Kovachich reports.

These remarkable master classes are held two times a day during traditional tours of the Sochi marine park. After luring one-and-a-half-meter sharks dwelling in one of the tanks, experienced divers show people how to hide from them among coral reefs. Caution comes first, the oceanarium’s leading specialist Yulia Sapronova says.

"As we all know, sharks are extremely dangerous predators. Your chances to survive if attacked by these creatures are slim to none. One has to try, above all, to avert such attacks, since in most cases it is us who inadvertently provoke sharks by teasing them and trying to attract their attention, "Yulia Sapronova said.

As part of the tour, ichthyologists tell tourists what behavior to avoid when they see a shark. Flailing your arms and legs around wildly to scare it away, for instance, will only anger the creature, Yulia Sapronova goes on to say.  

"Sharks can sense tiny amounts of blood - even a single drop - in the water up to 5 kilometers away and trace them back to their source. Therefore, before getting into the water, make sure that you do not have any cuts on your body, even minor ones. Moreover, most sharks have excellent eye sight. Do not wear shiny jewelry and swimming suits with metal ornamentation - sharks can mistake the light reflected off shiny metal for fish scales. You should also avoid swimming alone: three people will be enough to scare it away. If a shark is swimming around you, try not to lose sight of it and never let it slip beneath you. If you are a diver, it would be best to stay at the bottom," Yulia Sapronova said.

The largest sharks known - the great whites - dwell along the east coast of the USA. They regularly attack people, confusing them with their top menu selection - sea lions and seals. Egypt sharks (long-finned, bullhead and mackerel) are smaller, but can also attack swimmers. Being aggressively defensive, namely hitting the creature on the nose or cutting it with some sharp objects, can be recommended only for veteran divers who have certain experience in dealing with sea creatures. If you are an amateur diver or an ordinary tourist, concentrate on getting out of the water as quickly as possible. Swim steadily making long wide strokes and do not panic - sharks are said to be able to feel adrenaline from your fear.

Shark master classes in Sochi’s oceanarium were set up following a series of attacks on tourists in Egypt’s resort city of Sharm-el-Sheikh in late November. Three Russians and one Ukrainian citizen were injured and one German woman died in those attacks. The New Year holidays are expected to start with another wave of tourists eager to spend their vacation by the sea. Therefore, people’s interest in the new training courses is immense, according to Yulia Sapronova.

"Frequently, people are unaware of some of the simplest but most dangerous things they can face in Egypt, apart from sharks. For example, nocturnal predatory Conus species - small marine gastropods with sharp spines - can be encountered along the entire Egyptian coast. Hiding in the sand during daylight hours, this creature is even more venomous than a viper or a cobra and can be very fatal to people. Many have never heard about such gastropods and we therefore explain everything about these dangerous creatures to visitors to our marine park", Yulia Sapronova said.

Anyway, one should not forget that exotic countries and seas are full of various perils. You should be vigilant even if nothing ever happened to you abroad before. We don’t need to take a risk and rely on a bit of luck, specialists say.

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