Shark Attacks in the News: What Responsibility do Lifeguards and Beaches Have?

JACKSON, Mississippi.  In recent news, two children were attacked by sharks off Long Island and another person was attacked by a shark in Florida.  While shark attacks remain very rare, they have the potential to cause serious injuries.  Most sharks don’t intend to eat humans. We aren’t on their diet.  However, shark bites can occur when juvenile sharks get confused in the water and do a “test” bite on humans.  It’s like a taste test, but the results can be devastating.

So, what can you do to prevent a shark attack?  According to CNN, there are some common-sense things to watch for.  Don’t swim in the dark.  Don’t swim in waters with fish or where birds are feeding.  And, take off your jewelry before you go into the water.  Jewelry can confuse sharks and make them think you have fins.  If a shark does approach you or if you see one, calmly exit the water.  Don’t splash around too much, though, because splashing can make the shark think you’re an injured animal.  If you are bitten or attacked, stand your ground and fight back.  The larger and stronger you look, the less likely you are to be bitten or attacked in the first place.  CNN suggests that you punch the shark in the nose, eyes, or gills, if attacked.

Yet, no one wants to find themselves face to face with a shark—period.  What responsibility do local beaches have to protect residents?  Lifeguards can monitor the water and let swimmers know when deadly sea life has been seen, but is there anything else to be done?  In some areas, like New York and Cape Cod, scientists are putting tags on sharks so they can alert local authorities when the sharks are near the shore or places where people are in the water.

Cities can also close beaches.  According to the Guardian, after the two New York shark attacks, Fire Island closed its beaches.  Yet, beach closures may only have a minimal impact on shark activity.  Sharks can always travel to other beaches in the area or they might swim out to sea never to be seen again.  Therefore, cities may consider hiring more lifeguards and by increasing research into local shark activity.

Sharks are an important part of the marine ecosystem.  They generally don’t attack humans and your chances of getting bitten or attacked are quite low.  The reality is that you are more likely to be injured while driving to the beach than swimming in it.

Malouf & Malouf are personal injury lawyers in Jackson, Mississippi who wish everyone a happy end of the summer. Stay safe in the water and out. Make sure children have their swim lessons. Monitor children in the water. And drive safely, when going to and from the beach. If you have questions about a recent injury you or a loved one suffered, visit us at to learn more about your rights.

Malouf & Malouf, PLLC 501 E Capitol St. Jackson, MS 39201 Phone Number: (601) 522-2222

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