a blog with cultural bulimia.

Monday, May 03, 2004

things could be worse

one of my biggest phobias is swimming in deep waters. or murky waters. or anywhere that is not lined with tiles...

Public Service Announcement:
If your airplane crashes in the ocean

jawsYou might think that once your airplane crashes into the open sea, things couldn't get any worse. Not so.

As any B-movie fan knows, the next hazard for survivors is sharks.

  1. First of all, there's no need to panic - most of the time - as long as the survivors are in a life raft. Without a life raft, however, the situation might be different.
    Once you're in the water, there is concern. Sharks can, and occasionally do, damage human beings. Humans can be attractive targets, especially if they're bleeding.

  2. The unlucky can expect three types of ''unprovoked shark bites'':

    "Hit-and-run" bites, in which the shark bites a human while apparently perceiving that the human is one of the shark's customary food sources - for example, a seal. The shark probably recognizes immediately upon biting that the human is not the food it was seeking, and then releases the human and does not return.

    "Bump-and-bite" bites, in which the shark circles and bumps its victim before biting. These bites usually occur in deeper water and may involve repeated bites and/or sustained bites, and severe injuries.

    "Sneak" bites, which occur without warning. These bites, like bump-and-bite bites, usually occur in deeper water and may involve repeated bites and/or sustained bites, and severe injuries.

  3. sharks are more likely to go after solitary swimmers and are attracted by shiny jewelry and bright colors
    The safety orange/yellow used in [life vests] is referred to as 'yum-yum yellow' by shark biologists. But it's a trade-off. To be readily seen by rescue folks in the air or from a vessel, you also must be seen by sharks.

  4. For those stuck in the water, "the following actions are advised":
    • float vertically and move as little as possible. Someone lying horizontally in the water is more likely to resemble sharks' typical prey.
    • Remain in a group "at all costs" and gather together as much floating material as possible.
    • Do not remove any clothing, including shoes. Sharks generally bite unclothed people - and those with bare feet - before they bite those wearing clothing.
    • Do not urinate or defecate while sharks are in the area.
    • If you are injured and bleeding, stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. If a group of people is in the water, form a circle around the bleeding survivor.

  5. if a shark actually bites and does not let go, the best thing to do is to not fight the shark, besides trying to get its mouth open. Any motion, such as jerking away from the shark, will lead to much more severe wounds and can be much more devastating than the actual bite. Opening a shark's mouth should not be attempted by hitting the animal, since that reflects a 'prey action.' it's best to go after the gills or the eyes and poke them, if reachable.

  6. sharks aren't the only creatures to worry about: the report concludes by citing yet more potential hazards, including barracuda, venomous sea snakes, electric rays (also known as torpedoes), stingrays, sea anemones and even estuarine crocodiles

[condensed from this NYTimes article]