TOPICS: Shark showdown

BAIT: Lifeguard Warren Smith says to stay calm when you see a shark.
BAIT: Lifeguard Warren Smith says to stay calm when you see a shark.

A KEY lesson from the James Bond films is that if you find yourself in the water with a shark, it’s pretty much curtains.

Now they’re lurking in the shallows at Redhead (Herald, Friday). There’s got to be a better coping technique than dying, right? But what do you  do?

Newcastle City Council chief lifeguard Warren Smith says there isn’t one perfect method.

It all depends on whether you’re alone (apart from the shark) the distance between you and your toothy stalker and the shore, and whether you’re swimming or on a floating device like a surfboard.

‘‘Don’t panic or make too much of a splash,’’ says Mr Smith, who admits that’s easier said than done.

‘‘If you turn your back and start paddling madly to shore, I think that’s the worst thing you can do.’’

It’s worth remembering, says Mr Smith, that the shark mightn’t have made up its mind to attack you. It could just be patrolling, and decide to pass you by.

Mr Smith, who’s also the organiser of Surfest, has chilling memories of a day surfing with some mates off Hawks Nest. A grey fin surfaced a few metres from him, then disappeared. The group huddled together and waited, but the shark had gone.

What about the punch-the-shark-in-the-face trick? Does that work?

‘‘If it came to that, I’d be doing all I could to stop it from coming at me,’’ Mr Smith says.

‘‘Get your board in the way, poke the eyes, do whatever you can.’’

So there you are. Now. Who’s up for a swim?


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