Jaws is fake. I know it is, as a local girl from the Big Island I spend more time in the Pacific Ocean then my bath tub! Countless people all over the world dangle their legs in the shallow waters of the ocean, others submerge their entire bodies swimming out to sea, and the hours spent on surf boards each day by millions of surfers you might consider ocean-goers serious “fish” bait. Think again. No doubt we are invading the land of sharks, dolphins, waves, and other mysteries… but we are not all that scrumptious.
Since 2005 the recorded number of shark attacks each year is only in the 60’s. That’s less than one per Ironman (just kidding). On an average only 4 each year are fatal. Sharks are not out to “eat” us. Our bodies are too bony for their fat and muscle desired meals, such as a yummy blubbery seal. In most attacks, sharks either felt threatened or mistook the human for something from the sea.
How about them dolphins? Beautiful to say the least, dolphins are similar to a 2 year old in the sense they are curious about everything. They often get close to swimmers, check out the action, and then carry on about their business. There have been reporting’s of “dolphin attacks”. These are mostly cases of protection as a dolphin can become very aggressive if they feel threatened, perhaps the same temper tantrum a 2 year old throws when you invade their crayons. Due to their size a minor push or thrust of their tale can amount in a 400 pound body slam. Your best bet is to admire their beauty from a distance and let go of your fear (they can sense it).
Other open ocean concerns, such as waves and rip currents claim more lives than the combined total of sea creature attacks (including jelly fish and man-o-wars). You cannot tame the ocean. To save your life, “go with the flow”. If you get caught in rip tides never swim against them. Soon enough they will let up and you can swim into shore then walk down the beach if you must. As for the waves, embrace them. The power of the ocean can be as furious as it is alluring. Again go with the flow and stay calm. Of the 100 deaths averaged per year due to waves and rip tides, a majority could have been prevented by riding out the storm with calmness. Often times easier said than done. The smoothest part of a wave is below the surface. When faced with a wall of white water go deep, hold your breath, let the wave pass over you, then come to the surface ( surfers call this duck diving).
Rest assured your biggest concern in open water swimming is that crazy start where you are more likely to get swallowed up by an angry mob of Triathletes than any fish.